Elche 1-1 Real Madrid: result, summary and goals
Elche vs Real Madrid: as it happened
On the whistle report from Ed Osmond:
Real Madrid were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw at struggling Elche on Wednesday, losing ground in the La Liga title race to leaders Atletico Madrid.
A header from Luka Modric gave the champions the lead in the 20th minute but Elche found a way back into the game when Fidel Chaves levelled from the penalty spot early in the second half.
Both sides had chances to take all three points, with Elche forward Lucas Boye striking the post, while Real defenders Dani Carvajal and Sergio Ramos were each thwarted by fine saves from the home side's keeper Edgar Badia.
The draw halted a six-game winning streak in all competitions for Real and left them second in the standings on 33 points, two behind city rivals Atletico who also have two games in hand. Elche are 15th on 16 points.
Peep, peep, peep! And that brilliant free kick attempt from Elche's Verdu is the last play of the match. Madrid will be disappointed as the game ends 1-1. They now sit two points behind Atlético, who have two games in hand. But as Casemiro has just told Spanish TV: "There is a long way to go".
Verdu comes close with the free kick! It looked like it was sailing in by the near post but Courtois has pulled off a stunning save.
And it looks like Elche will have the last chance of the game with a free kick just outside Madrid's half as Carvajal fouls Morente.
Three minutes of added time to be played!
What a chance for Benzema! Modric delivers the perfect ball to the Frenchman by the penalty spot. Benzema tries to guide the ball towards goal with a glancing header but fails to connect.
Vinicius comes on for the final minutes as Asensio goes off.
Fed up with Madrid's inability to test Badia in the last few minutes despite having all the possession, Asensio makes some space for himself to launch one from distance. It's on target but blocked by an Elche defender. That's as good as it's got for a while for Madrid.
Vinicius now warming up for Real Madrid.
Hazard running around looking for spaces as Madrid pass the ball around the perimeter of Elche's box. But the hosts are soaking up the pressure well and eventually clear the ball away to give themselves some respite.
Eden Hazard is on! The Belgian replaces Lucas V. as Fede Valverde comes on for Toni Kroos. Two big changes for Madrid as they go in search of the winner here with 12 minutes to go.
After Atlético's 1-0 win against Getafe earlier, if the score stays at 1-1 here, Los Rojiblancos will be two points clear of Madrid with two games in hand.
What a save from Badia! Carvajal turns one defender to put himself one-on-one with Badia. A goal seemed a certainty but somehow the Elche keeper has kept the ball out. What reflexes! Seconds later he smothers up another close range effort from Ramos. Top marks.
Boye lets fly from distance! But it travels way over Courtois's goal. Elche have looked better in this second half.
Carvajal goes in the book for a cynical pull on the shirt of Fidel as the Elche midfielder tried to past him.
Elche ALMOST make it 2-1! Regoni comes bursting forward towards Madrid's box, passes to Boye, who sees his low shot shave the outside of the near post. It had Courtois beaten.
A frustrated Casemiro goes into the book for a needless late challenge from behind on Sanchez just outside Elche's box.
The cameras focus in on Hazard in the stands, who is only recognisable by his eyes with the mask and woolly hat on. Will we see his introduction at some point? It's likely.
GOAL ELCHE!! Fidel steps up to take the spot kick and drives the ball into the bottom left corner. Courtois went the right way but could not get a hand to it. 1-1!
Penalty Elche! Barragan is manhandled by Carvajal as the cross comes in from the free-kick and the ref points to the spot.
Elche do well to work the ball up field under intense Madrid pressure and win a free-kick in a promising area.
Peep!!! Madrid get the second half underway!
The teams are in the tunnel and are ready to make their way to the pitch for the second half. It looks like there will be no changes for either side. Elche will seriously have to step up their game if they are going to salvage anything. Madrid have so far been bossing it.
Peep, peep! That's the end of the first half. Madrid have one last chance as Benzema tries a short cross on the right, but again it's snuffed out by the Elche defense. And that proves to be the last play of the first half as Madrid head to the dressing room with a 1-0 advantage.
Asensio and Lucas V. link up well on the right before the Elche defenders cancel out Asensio's cross close to the byline.
Again Elche have a chance to break on the counter, this time through Regoni (who has looked their most dangerous player so far tonight) but they just can't manage to muster up anything to test Courtois once they reach the box.
Real Madrid penalty decision quickly overturned! The referee, much to the surprise of everyone including the Real Madrid players, has awarded a penalty. Elche are incensed. It's for a handball, but it appears to have hit the defender's knee. The ref goes to check the screen and, after a quick review, rightfully reverses his decision.
With Madrid pressing high, the hosts have had a few chances to break on the counter but so far have lacked the killer instinct when they reach Los Blancos' third.
Chance Madrid! Elche foolishly lose the ball round their own third, allowing Carvajal to pounce before he passes to Lucas V. The Madrid forward's shot is quickly smothered out by two defenders.
GOAL REAL MADRID! GOAL LUKA MODRIC!
Modric started the move, passing to Kroos before continuing his run towards goal. Kroos slots a short pass to Asensio, whose long-range shot rattles the cross bar.
Badia had committed himself to saving Asensio's unexpected shot, leaving the on-rushing Modric to header the ball into an almost-empty goal from the deflected shot off the woodwork.
A bit of scrambling between three Elche defenders around their own six-yard area almost allows Casemiro to latch onto the ball. But keeper Badia has come to the rescue.
Marcelo hits the crossbar! Marcelo turns stiker and is teed up beautifully to shoot a volley from just inside the box. It's beaten Badia but the ball smacks the cross bar as it was dipping towards goal. That would have been a stunner!
Chance Elche! Under pressure from Marcelo, Rigoni does well to cut right before blasting a shot towards Courtois, who is forced to save by his near post and concede a corner.
It's a very Spanish-Argentine affair for Elche tonight. The hosts' XI is made of up of six Spaniards and five Argentineans.
Another cross comes in from the right, this time from Modric towards Benzema but Badia punches the ball away.
FIve minutes gone here and so far just that half-chance for Kroos as Madrid try to build something.
Madrid in posession for the first time as they create an early offensive move that ends with a header from Kroos. But the German has put the ball wide of the far post as he looked to guide his headed attempt across goal and past Badia.
Peep! Elche get the game underway at the Estadio Martinez Valero!
A full moon over Elche tonight...
With a full moon over Elche this evening, Zidane will be hoping his side can avoid any defensive "howlers" like the one seen at Camp Nou last night.
Pressure on Real Madrid as Atlético beat Getafe
Atlético Madrid have secured a 1-0 win and yet another clean sheet against Getafe, putting them three points clear of Real Madrid with one game in hand. The result will put extra pressure on Madrid to do the business tonight against Elche. Luis Suarez was the lone scorer for Atlético, with the Uruguayan continuing his great start to life at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Elche's Starting XI
Fans are seen outside the stadium prior to the match between Elche CF and Real Madrid at the Estadio Martinez Valero. Though, of course, they will not be allowed to enter the stadium tonight as the match will be played behind closed doors. (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)
As we await kick off...
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Zidane's pre-match comments
"We know it's the final game of the year and we want to continue doing what we are doing." Here is what Zidane had to say ahead of tonight's fixture...
Madrid's first trip to the Martínez Valero in five years
Back in Feb 2015, Real Madrid saw out a 2-0 win over Elche at the Martínez Valero, with goals coming from Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo. One of those players is here tonight and will be looking to add more to his 8-goal tally in the league, which would put him level on top with Iago Aspas in the race for the Pichichi.
Two sides in very different form
Elche are ready for battle with the Champions. The new boys have now gone eight games without a win and could do with turning their fortunes around before the new year. That will be no easy task though against a Madrid side looking for their seventh straight victory in all competitions.
Real Madrid's final XI of 2020
As expected, Eden Hazard will start on the bench as Benzema, Lucas Vazquez and Asensio will form the front three...
Modric returns, while Rodrygo is only player injured
Zidane will welcome the return of Luka Modric who missed the Granada game through injury, while Rodrygo is the only player unavailable. meaning Zidane will have the rare luxury of a virtually-full squad of players to choose from in what has so far been an injury-laden season.
Hazard is back!
Eden Hazard looks set to feature for Real Madrid for the first time in over a month. Having come back from the Christmas mini-break in peak shape, the Belgian international has been able to train at 100% since the return to work on Sunday, with coach Zinedine Zidane confirming that the 29-year-old winger will play at least “a few minutes” at the Estadio Martínez Valero.
Hello and Welcome...
.. to our live coverage of the LaLiga Santander clash between new boys Elche and current champions Real Madrid. The match gets underway in an hour (21:30 CET). In the meantime you can follow the build-up with us here.