Carlo Ancelotti's second stint in charge of Real Madrid began with a 4-1 win over Alaves at Mendizorroza.
It was a cagey start, with Alaves arguably having the better of it early on, but once Madrid stepped on the gas, they were imperious and difficult to stop.
Luis Rioja stood out for the home side; he was consistently getting the better of Los Blancos' makeshift right back Lucas Vazquez.
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He found himself on the left and cut inside to test Thibaut Courtois, before driving the team forward and linking up well with former Newcastle Ubnited striker Joselu.
Ancelotti opted for experience with his first La Liga selection since returning as Madrid coach. Karim Benzema, Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale all shot wide, but that was as good as it got for the visitors in the first half.
Meanwhile, at the other end, Rioja went close twice more. First, he drove forward and fired a shot across Thibaut Courtois' goal, before latching onto Edgar Mendez's cross and lobbing over the bar. Appeals for handball were waved away by the referee.
Just three minutes into the second half, Benzema put Madrid in front. Bale's cross was played back in by Vazquez, but it was Hazard'd flick into the Frenchman's path, allowing him to lash a volley into the net, which deserved the credit.
Either side of the hour, Madrid seemingly opened an unassailable lead with two quickfire goals. First, Nacho met Luka Modric's clever near-post cross to add a second, before Benzema finished from Fede Valverde's cross, via a rebound.
Yet, on 65 minutes, Alaves substitute John Guidetti was brought down in the area, allowing Joselu to open his account for the season from the penalty spot.
Alaves continued to press, but the game was long gone, and Vinicius Junior's late fourth ensured Ancelotti was able to savour a victory.

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TALKING POINT - Ancelotti is back, are Bale and Hazard?

It was typical Ancelotti in terms of his team selection. He flaunted his big names, and in the end, it paid off. This was just Hazard's 22nd La Liga start in just over two years, while Bale came in from the cold, but they showed they are behind their new boss. Bale had a great relationship with the Italian when they last worked together; could an unlikely renaissance occur? On this evidence, don't bet against it.

MAN OF THE MATCH - Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

Benzema shone brightest when Madrid released the shackles, but he was pushing and probing in the first half, too. The way he pulled out wide to the left confused the Alaves back line and his understanding with Hazard shone through. Neither Modric nor Valverde put a foot wrong, but the France star justy edges this award.

PLAYER RATINGS

Alaves: Pacheco 6, Lejeune 5, Laguardia 5, Duarte 6, Martin 5, Garcia 7, Pina 5, Rioja 7, Pons 6, Mendez 6, Joselu 7 Substitues: Loum 6, Guidetti 6, Ivan Martin 5, Pallistri 5
Real Madrid: Courtois 7, Alaba 7, Nacho 7, Militao 6, Lucas 7, Casemiro 6, Modric 8, Valverde 7, Bale 7, Hazard 7, Benzema 9 Substitutes: Vinicius 7, Rodrygo 6, Jovic n/a, Isco n/a, Asensio n/a

KEY MOMENTS

39' - CHANCE! Close from Rioja, who lobs over the bar after a brillisnt Alaves break involving Mendez and Manu Garcia.
48' - GOAL! Benzema! Wonderful finish from Benzema after Bale's cross is recycling by Vazquez. Hazard's exquisite flick put the ball in his path.
56' - GOAL! It is two, Nacho sneaks in at the near post to meet Modric's deflected cross. That could be good night Alaves.
62' - GOAL! Just like that, it is 3-0. Valverde drives forward and crosses for Benzema. His first shot is blocked by Pacheco, but he is there with the rebound.
65' - GOAL! - Joselu scores from the penalty spot! 1-3!
90' + 1 - GOAL! Vinicius. 1-4! What a secobd half for Madrid.

KEY STATS

Benzema now has 17 goals in La Liga in 2021. Only Lionel Messi (23) has more.
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