Real Madrid ratings: Benzema avoids Bernabéu embarrassment
The striker's second-half double gave Madrid a come-from-behind win over Eibar, in a game that saw Gareth Bale whistled from early on.
Having sat out the Huesca game a week ago, Keylor Navas was back in a Bernabéu line-up for the visit of Eibar. The Costa Rican had little to do in the first half until Marc Cardona's goal, when he anticipated a first-time finish and threw himself at the forward's feet, only for the player to control and dink the ball over the goalkeeper and into the net. Unstoppable.
With Dani Carvajal out injured, Álvaro Odriozola made his fourth start in four under Zinedine Zidane. As ever, he showed grit and character, but he needed to be more forceful and make more of an impact going forward. He cut out a counter-attack led by Cardona to ensure Eibar did not score a second shortly after the break, and in general did very well in the second half.
With Sergio Ramos rested, it fell to Raphaël Varane to lead the defence, but the Frenchman was poor, producing a clumsy display in which his attempts to bring the ball out from the back did not go well. Waged a hard-fought aerial duel with Sergi Enrich. He did improve in the second half, though, showing greater defensive clout and joining in the attack on a couple of occasions.
As always, he flew slightly under the radar but was reliable enough. A focused, assured performance, albeit significantly more so in the second 45, as he followed Varane's example and stepped things up a notch after the half-time break.
Restored to the starting line-up due to Marcelo's suspension, he fought as hard as he always does, and stepped forward into attack with plenty of enthusiasm but less end product.
He lasted as long as his body did. He threaded together his side's attacks nicely, but was a little slow tracking back and helping out to win back possession. Produced the hosts' first shot on target in the second half, when he sent a weak drive towards Marko Dimitrovic's goal.
Having featured as a second-half subsitute against Celta Vigo and Huesca, this was the Uruguayan's first start since Zidane's return as boss. He hadn't been in a Madrid line-up since the win over Real Betis in January. He won a good few balls back and showed astuteness when helping to bring it out from the back.
It was an on-and-off display from the Andalusian, who had spells where he disappeared, mixed with others where he was suddenly the focus of the Madrid attack. His chief weakness is surely his continued insistence on dallying on the ball when he brings it under his spell.
Jeers, jeers and more jeers for the Welshman, particularly in a first half in which he was sluggish, sloppy and not on the same wavelength as his team-mates. In the second 45, he switched flanks with Marco Asensio to operate on the left, and participated more.
Benzema, who had two goals ruled out for offside, not so much spearheaded the Madrid attack as carried it. Having nodded in the equaliser on the hour mark, he grabbed the winner 10 minutes from time with another header, and could well have ended up with a hat-trick. The Frenchman has now racked up four goals and an assist in his last three games.
Starting on the left of the attack, the Spaniard scarcely had any influence on the hosts' attacking play, except to draw a foul from Paulo Oliveira that earned the Eibar defender a yellow card. In the second half, he played on the right and was more involved, supplying the pass for Madrid's first goal.
On the bench for the first time under Zidane, he came on for Bale after 77 minutes. The German provide the cross from which Benzema netted Los Blancos' second goal.
The winger was brought on for Modric with just under a quarter of an hour remaining at the Bernabéu, and battled hard in his short time on the field.
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