Cristiano Ronaldo ends goal drought as Real Madrid nick unconvincing win
La Liga, Santiago Bernabeu - Real Madrid 3 (Benzema 9, Casemiro 21, Ronaldo 76) Malaga 2 (Rolan 18, Castro 58)
Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winner in what was a fraught 3-2 win over basement side Malaga for Real Madrid, keeping the champions just about in touch with Barcelona at the top of La Liga.
It was far from the most convincing of performances from Zinedine Zidane’s men, who were pegged back twice by a Malaga side who, before today, had failed to score a single away goal all season long. However, it could prove to be a crucial win ahead of Sunday’s top of the table clash between Barca and Valencia.
Karim Benzema gave Real the lead in the first half, only for Diego Rolan to equalise not long after. Casemiro restored the hosts’ lead minutes later, but Malaga hit back once again, with Kiko Casilla allowing a shot from Chory Castor to slip through his fingers.
But Ronaldo stuck away a penalty kick at the second attempt to end his Liga scoring drought and clinch a critical three points for Real Madrid. Now, they must hope Barcelona drop points to Valencia on Sunday.
TALKING POINT - Three points doesn’t mask Real Madrid disgruntlement
Real Madrid might have escaped from this match with a 3-2 win and three points, but there was still a sense of disgruntlement from the home fans inside the Santiago Bernabeu come full time. This is a team that has drastically lost its way this season. There’s a lack of fluidity and their performances aren’t getting better. Instead, they are getting more laboured. That’s not a good sign.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Karim Benzema
The French striker has come in for some strong criticism in recent weeks, but he showed why he remains so important to Real Madrid. Benzema opened the scoring, but this display was about more than just his goal. He ran the channels, pulled his team up the pitch and generally provided the attacking hub Real Madrid needed. There’s still plenty in Benzema’s tank yet.
Karim Benzema celebra su gol en el Real Madrid-MálagaGetty Images
9’ GOAL! Real Madrid 1-0 Malaga: There's the opening goal and it has fallen to Benzema! Ronaldo struck the bar with a header from an extremely tight angle, but the Frenchman was on hand to finish the rebound from close range.
18’ GOAL! Real Madrid 1-1 Malaga: Malaga haven't scored an away goal all season, but they have equalised at the Bernabeu. Rolan pulled down a cross inside the box and slammed home a finish past Casilla.
21’ GOAL! Real Madrid 2-1 Malaga: The hosts hit back immediately, with Casemiro arriving late in the box to get on the end of a Kroos cross. His header was too strong for Roberto to keep out of the net.
57’ GOAL! Real Madrid 2-2 Malaga: Malaga have scored another equaliser! Castro was left with far too much space about 20 yards out, striking towards goal. Should Casilla have done better with that effort? It slipped through his hands.
76’ PENALTY KICK TO REAL MADRID! Modric is felled in the box following a lazy challenge.
77’ GOAL! Real Madrid 3-2 Malaga: Ronaldo's initial penalty kick is saved by Malaga, but the Real Madrid number seven is quick enough to catch the rebound and finish at the second attempt.
80’ WHAT A CHANCE! Rosales found himself with so much time and space inside the Real Madrid penalty area, but the Malaga right back can't keep his cool and drags his shot well wide.
Cristiano Ronaldo lors de Real Madrid - Malaga / LigaGetty Images
Cristiano Ronaldo has missed four of the seven penalties he has taken against Malaga, more than against any other side for Real Madrid.
Karim Benzema’s goal ended a run of seven La Liga games without scoring, his longest run in the competition as a Real Madrid player.