Real Madrid 2-0 Alavés: Madrid two victories from the title
Real Madrid vs Alavés live online: LaLiga matchday 35
Relentless Real can almost touch title after eighth win in a row
Here's Richard Martin's match report:
Real Madrid took another step towards their first La Liga title in three years by beating free-falling Alaves 2-0 at home on Friday, overcoming a number of high-profile absences to secure their eighth consecutive victory.
Real were missing three of their first-choice defenders as captain Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal were suspended and Marcelo was injured but they again showed their defensive solidity and recorded a fifth consecutive clean sheet.
Zinedine Zidane's side got off to a comfortable start as Karim Benzema converted from the spot in the 11th minute after Ferland Mendy was judged to have been fouled by Ximo Navarro just as he entered the area.
It was the third game in a row in which Real had broken the deadlock thanks to a penalty and they sealed the win when Benzema turned provider and allowed Marco Asensio to tap into an empty net early in the second half.
Real moved on to 80 points, restoring their four-point lead over second-placed Barcelona with three games remaining.
Alaves meanwhile fell to a sixth consecutive defeat which left them in 17th place, hovering three points and one position above the relegation zone.
It was their first match under new coach Juan Ramon Lopez Muniz after Asier Garitano was dismissed and they made a bold start as former Real forward Joselu headed against the crossbar in the opening minute and Raphael Varane was forced to clear a shot on the rebound from Lucas Perez off the line.
The struggling visitors still managed to cause plenty of problems for Real's makeshift defence after going behind, with Scottish winger Oliver Burke forcing Thibaut Courtois into a good save and later teeing up Joselu, whose shot ballooned over the bar.
Real's second goal was initially ruled offside but awarded following a VAR review.
VAR also worked in their favour for the penalty, following a week in which Barca's president and coach raged against how the technology has been used recently.
"The noise about VAR does not bother us, we can only control the attitude we continue to show on the pitch," said Real defender Varane.
"We are focused on our objective and we have three finals left. It was vital to win and it was important to keep another clean sheet and that gives us a lot of confidence."
Madrid need two wins from three to be guaranteed the title. They play Granada away on Monday (22:00), Villarreal at home on Thursday (21:00) and finish up away to Leganés on Sunday at 21:00.
And if Barcelona fail to beat Valladolid tomorrow evening (19:00 CEST) then Madrid can win it on Monday against Granada (22:00 CEST)
Another win for Real Madrid
Eight wins in a row from Real Madrid now since the restart. Another clean sheet. After Benzema opened the scoring the result wasn't ever really in doubt, although Alavés did cause the home side a little discomfort at times - the problem was they never looked that likely to take their chances. The visitors did try and up the pace at the start of the second half, but got caught out allowing Asensio to pop home the second and that was it as a competitive encounter.
That's Real Madrid's fifth consecutive clean sheet, and the first time they've managed that in twelve years.
Varane says "the team are happy with the run, but they "need to keep working hard" and doing "everything possible to win the league."
Asked about the absences of Ramos and Carvajal, Varane says the squad are united and doing what Zidane wants. "We work together to stop goals."
Asked about controversy over another penalty being awarded to Madrid, Varane says the team don't notice it. They just focus on their work on the pitch.
Full time! Real Madrid take another step towards the 2019/2020 LaLiga title with a solid win over Alavés.
Another game without conceding for Real Madrid. And tonight they had a makes-shift defence. Zidane will be pleased.
Vinicius offside down the left-hand touchline.
Bale having a good chuckle on the bench. He's been bench-bound for four games in a row, but seems in good spirits.
Brahim is getting to come on! Casemiro coming off for him.
With not much happening on the pitch all eyes are on Brahim to see if he's going to get on or not...
Six minutes of time added on.
Rodríguez has an effort from an angle, but you have to get up a lot earlier, or maybe just hit it a lot harder, to get it past Courtois.
Looks like Brahim Díaz is going to get a run out. He's only had 9 minutes against Mallorca since the restart.
Benzema is holding the back of his right thigh up in the stands, and has asked one of the physios to come and have a look. Zidane won't want to lose him...
Twinkle toes from Isco in the midfield. Borja Sainz is having none of that and gets rather agricultural about the situation. Foul for Real Madrid. They're happy to run the clock down now, holding onto possession.
Isco! Hits a curler from across the goal, forced Roberto to tip it round the post. Lovely football.
Yellow for Abdallahi for bringing Kroos down from behind. First card of the match.
But he's ok to play today
Double sub for Real Madrid
Benzema and Rodrygo off and Isco and Hazard on.
Hazard and Isco getting ready to come on.
Casemiro down hurt after taking a stamp on the ankle from Jose Luis Rodríguez. Magic spray time.
Drinks break over.
Rodrygo with a chance from a tight angle out on the right, after a nice break from Madrid. But the shot is well blocked by Roberto.
Nice running from Sainz and he gets his shot off, but it's blocked by Varane and out for a corner. Nothing comes of it.
Spirited running and a neat interchange with Kroos from Vinicius sees him nearly in, but as so often his speed > control and he's off and away, but without the ball.
Zidane responds with his own double substitution:
Modric (who has been great tonight) and Asensio (who got a goal) off, Fede Valverde and Vinicius on.
Joselu and Edgar off, Borja and José Luis Rodríguez on
Looks like Alavés are giving up on getting anything out of tonight and will be focusing on saving themselves from relegation in their final three matches. Remember, they need to win two of them to be sure of avoiding the drop.
Vinicius getting his shirt on. Sub time.
It's all Real Madrid at the moment, camped in the final third of the pitch. Modric decides to let fly from distance and Roberto gently falls into it and clutches it safely.
Kroos with a good chance to shoot at the top of the box but Martín does well to get across and block.
Well worked down the left from Madrid, Asensio into the box and fires it across. Could go anywhere, but it flies off an Alavés player and out for a corner. Nice movement from Madrid in the build up.
Lucas Vázquez absolutely fluffs a chance for a volley at the backpost. Neat ball across the box from Benzema.
Madrid are four points clear of Barcelona as it stands.
Courtois denies Joselu! The Belgian keeper was out very quickly to narrow the angle there.
Casemiro straight in at number 1 in the Worst Shot of the Night charts. Absolutely skies a hopeful one from outside the box.
Roberto again! Denies Benzema with a fine save diving left. From the rebound the ball is clipped across the goal where Rodrygo is a fine hair away from making it three.
Alavés keeper Roberto just gets a touch to nick the ball off Benzema's head.
Double substitution for Alavés:
Lucas Pérez and Fejsa off. Luís Rioja and Abdallahi on.
Lucas Pérez didn't look particularly pleased at being taken off. He'd been pretty active for the visitors.
Burke down holding his head after a nasty clash. He'll be ok.
It's going to be a big old uphill battle for Alavés to come back from this. They started the second half quite brightly, but you can't see them getting two here now.
Asensio slams it home after a square ball from Benzema, but it's offside. Ball from Benzema was good, but assistant ref thinks there was one in the build-up...
Great strength and skill from Modric there in midfield and nearly unlocked the Alavés defence, but Rodrygo it looked like just couldn't control the through ball.
Flying Scotsman Burke straight into piston-pumping action at the start of the second half with a long raking run down the left hand touchline. He eventually has the ball nicked off his toes though.
On the injury front, Benzema can carry on after that neck tweak at teh end of the first half.
Second half underway!
Referee Gil Manzano can't continue! So Rodríguez Carpallo comes on for him.
Benzema at the end of the first half, having tweaked something in his neck after tumbling as he took a shot.
Benzema celebrating the opener
Which was well converted by Benzema.
Real Madrid just about worth their lead, although they've looked rather sluggish and more so as the half wore on. Alavés did have their chances, including a tasty Burke shot well saved by Courtois and a fine ball across, again from the Scot, which was wasted by Joselu, but they failed to make any of them count.
Despite some mutterings on Twitter it doesn't seem like there should be any real doubt about the penalty. Clear contact in the box, and Mendy was going so fast that any touch was going to bring him down.
Benzema has hurt his head/neck/shoulder falling into an Alavés player as he got that final shot of the half off. He's kneeling on the pitch in some pain with the Real Madrid medics tending to him.
Peep! Half-time. Real Madrid 1-0 Alavés.
Valdano: "The match is pleading for it to be half-time". Though Madrid suddenly up the pace and Rodrygo slips it to Benzema who gets a shot off, but its easily saved.
Real Madrid testing the Alavés defence as the half runs down, but there are very few cracks in the Basque backline. Impressive.
Very dangerous foul for Real Madrid as Modric is chopped out on the right. Kroos and Asensio over it.
Asensio curls it in fast, and it's headed clear from the first defender.
The first half will have another five minutes.
Mendy, who's been pretty good so far, although dropped his pace a little bit since the drinks break, is playing very high up the pitch, quite often well ahead of Rodrygo.
Real Madrid on a long run of possession, out right, probing, back across for a wee probe down the left. And repeat. And then Rodrygo plays a one-two and bursts into the box... but he runs into a wall of Alavés players and the chance has gone. He claims obstruction, but Gil Manzano isn't remotely interested.
Lucas Vázquez is a cracking football player, but he's not a natural right-back. He doesn't seem to read the game quite right from there.
Burke! Skips past Militao on the Real Madrid byline and gets a dangerous ball across but Joselu slices it wildly. What a chance created by the Scotsman.
Rodrygo's had some rather tasty touches tonight. And he's got speed too. If he puts it all together on one move he could produce something very, very special.
Edgar with an almost petulant foul, tugging Kroos the turf. The German looks less than pleased. It wasn't in a particularly dangerous position either.
Drinks break over. And we start with some solid Real Madrid possession.
Gil Manzano looks ok to carry on
Gil Manzano is struggling here after that knock. He decides to call the drinks break early and is getting strapping on his ankle.
Joselu fouls Modric
Referee Gil Manzano needs some magic spray after picking up a knock just after that shot from Burke. He'll be ok to whistle on though.
Burke! Strides up into the box and pings a curler that's going in the far corner but Courtois gets down well to save!
Rodrygo tries up the left wing, but he's easily robbed by new man Martín.
Ximo Navarro off and Martín comes on for him.
Ximo Navarro can't carry on after a clash with Rodrygo. He's limping off
Another Alavés free-kick, Lucas Pérez again puts it into the danger area and another Alavés header that doesn't come to anything.
Real Madrid piling on the pressure here. More space, more speed. Mendy into the box and his square ball is just cut out. It falls to Modric who twists and turns at the top of the area and shapes to put a Coutinho-esque effort in the top corner, but he gets just too much underneath it and flies over.
Free-kick right by the left-hand corner flag for Alavés, Joselu gets his head on it, but he can't control it and flies harmlessly over the bar and off into the warm Madrid night air.
Asensio strides into the midfield looking like he's about to produce something special... he's easily knocked off the ball by Camarasa.
Kroos! Fires one onto the top netting. Pretty close to 2-0 there.
Benzema to take. Ramos looks on
Mendy turned on the turbo-boost and sprinted past Navarro, who stuck out a leg and made contact just inside the box. Clear penalty.
Penalty Real Madrid!
Lucas Vázquez standing in at right-back, brings the ball out and hits a pretty poor pass straight to an Alavés player. Not the way to impress.
Benzema offside at the back post as Modric floats a very nice ball over onto his tootsies.
Varane gives away a foul for manhandling Lucas Pérez. It's floated in by the foulee, but it's woefully short and comes to nothing.
Modric controls well on the right, deep diagonal ball to Benzema who controls neatly in the box - what lovely feet he has - but his shot is straight off a defender.
Alavés! Headed off the bar by Joselu and then the rebound is headed straight at Varane who saves on the line!
Modric! Real Madrid turn aimlessness into a sharp move up the left and a cross from Mendy ends up with Modric who fires over!
Real Madrid making sure a lot of their players gets a wee touch of the ball as they knock it around the park, mostly fairly aimlessly.
Off we go! Real Madrid straight into possession.
Gil Manzano is your ref tonight. We're not saying he will be handing out reds tonight.
Teams coming out on a very warm night in the Spanish capital.
Not long to go now. Teams in the tunnel...
Last three results
Some teams have songs about that sort of consistency.
15 minutes to go
Real Madrid twitter getting the lightning bolts out in their excitment. There were in fact some heavy storms with thunder and lightning here yesterday, but no chance of that tonight. Just a balmy 30º...
Real Madrid know their Champions League fate
If, of course they can get past Manchester City...
It was all a long time ago...
Alavés starting XI
Alavés start with eight Spaniards, one Brazilian, Rodrigo Ely; one Serb, Ljubomir Fejsa; and one Scot, Oliver Burke.
New man in the dugout for Alavés
Alavés have a new coach: López Muñiz, who said of his appointment, “They called me and I didn’t think twice”. He maybe should have. The side have five defeats in a row and have only scored one goal in those matches.
Of all the Spanish top-flight teams they have the least possession, least corners, least balls into the box and least yards advanced with players on the ball. Their strikers, Lucas and Joselu have however done what they can to hide the side’s deficiencies, with 11 and 10 goals respectively.
Alavés are also missing Pacheco (a product of the Real Madrid academy), Duarte, Ismael and Tachi. And the stat that shows how tough tonight will be for them: they’ve only won once away to Real Madrid, in the year 2000.
Hazard on the bench
Hazard is back, after two games out, though he starts on the bench. The Belgian has had a tame initial spell at Madrid, and he’s only played six games in 2020, with three assists and no goals. No explanation, meanwhile has been given for the absence, yet again of James.
How and where to watch Real Madrid vs Alavés
Kick-off is at 10:00 CEST. Here's our handy guide to how to tune in.
No Ramos tonight
Ramos won’t be able to repeat his penalty heroics tonight, having picked up a yellow that means he’s suspended. Carvajal is in exactly the same situation. Marcelo, by the way, is injured.
Watching tonight: Pep
City may lead 2-1 from the first leg, but Guardiola is, of course, taking nothing for granted.
Real Madrid defence
Real Marid’s defence is looking creaky, with just three defenders available from the eight who started the campaign, Varane, Militao and Mendy. They all start and Lucas Vázquez will be at right-back, a role he carried out under Lopetegui in emergencies (his first time out was in the Champions League again Viktoria Plzn).
Form after the Covid-19 break
The fortunes of the two sides couldn't be more different In the league since the coronavirus-induced stoppage, Real Madrid have been the best side, taking 21 out of a possible 21, while Alavés have been the worst, with just three points.
Time for some arithmetic
Number crunching time. Though it's not that difficult to see what each team needs. Real Madrid sitting pretty at the top of the table need three wins from four matches to win the title (they play Granada away on Monday (22:00), Villarreal at home on Thursday (21:00) and finish up away to Leganés on Sunday at 21:00).
Alavés for their part will be safe from relegation if they can manage two wins from their last four games. After tonight they are at home to Getafe, away to Betis and close the campaign at home to none other than Barcelona.
Real Madrid vs Alavés - matchday 35 of LaLiga 2019/2020
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the LaLiga match between Real Madrid and Alavés, at the Di Stéfano stadium here in Madrid. Kick-off is at 22:00, when it will hopefully be little cooler than the 32º the mercury is currently sweltering at.