Real Madrid 4-2 Valladolid: Raul Brace Helps Merengues Down Visitors
With Cristiano Ronaldo ineligible because of injury and Kaka and Higuain on the substitutes’ bench after playing for their national teams in midweek, Manuel Pellegrini opted to deploy Esteban Granero and Rafael van der Vaart on the wings.
The first chance on goal belonged to Real Madrid on 12 minutes, as Granero tried his luck from outside the box but his effort curved wide of the left post.
But the hosts would get ahead one minute later through Raul, who sent the ball home with a soft flick following Granero’s low cross from the right.
Real Madrid would increase their lead in the 17th minute, again by Raul. Marcelo raced down the left and sent in a low to the centre of the box, where Raul sent the ball past Jacobo with the side of his boot.
The Merengues were clearly better at this time, but Valladolid pulled one back in the 28th minute. The visitors were awarded a free-kick from a dangerous position just outside the box, and Nauzet Aleman made no mistake, sending a well-placed shot that went in off the inside of the right post.
Valladolid caught Real by surprise with this goal and it was by miracle they did not get a second just two minutes later, when a corner from the left was aimed at the near post, Arzo had no clear marking but his header went wide.
But the Merengues did not lower their heads, and Van der Vaart came close in the 39th minute, the Dutchman being played in by Marcelo before attempting a weak shot that went inches wide of the right post.
The first half would not come to and end before another goal from the hosts. Marcelo, down the left, cut inside and unleashed a powerful shot from outside the box past Jacobo.
The second period began with Real Madrid the better as the Merengues had the first chances, though with little danger, but it would be the visitors to score. In the 52nd minute, Diego Costa played a through ball to Marquitos, who did well to send the ball out of Casillas’ reach towards the far corner.
The pace of the match considerably dropped from then on, as danger would only be created again on 78 minutes, when Higuain made it 4-2. The Argentine, who had been brought on just minutes before, latched onto a great through pass by Xabo Alonso and brilliantly sent a chip shot over Jacobo.
Valladolid almost scored in the 83rd minute, as Diego Costa moved past Casillas before shooting but Albiol was on the line to deny the goal and keep the score-line as it was.
It was a good win for Real Madrid, who had no Cristiano Ronaldo and played most of the match without Kaka. Still, conceding two goals at home against Valladolid confirms the Merengues’ problems at the back, for which Pellegrini seems to find no solution.