Real Madrid secured yet another close-run win in the La Liga this weekend, as they played host to strugglers Sporting Gijon at the Santiago Bernabeu. The contest was expected to be more one-sided considering the vast gulf in quality between the two sides, but Sporting made a good showing of themselves in a 2-1 loss.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a penalty in the 5th minute of the game, after it was won by Lucas Vazquez. He also scored a bullet header in the 18th minute to get Real 2-0 up early on, but Sporting then settled into the game and proceeded to score one of their own through Carlos Carmona.
The closing stages of the game were made highly interesting after Sporting were awarded a penalty by referee Jose Hernandez. They could not convert it, however, and Real have temporarily extended their lead at the top of La Liga to 7 points above Barcelona, who visit the Anoeta on Sunday. Here are player ratings from the game:
Keylor Navas: 7/10
Navas made a couple of important saves. His job was rendered difficult by the pouring rain as the ball skidded off the surface and took unpredictable bounces. He was also good at dealing with crosses.
Sergio Ramos: 7/10
Ramos produced the most watchable moment of the game, striking the crossbar with an overhead kick at the fag end of the first half. Except for the play in which Real conceded, he was in command and made a number of good clearances.
Nacho Fernandez: 6/10
Nacho was a good fit in the leftback role, but he was unable to produce much of note in the second half. His performance dipped after moving to centreback in Ramos’ place, as he produced a rash foul meriting the penalty awarded by the referee to Gijon.
Pepe did a fairly decent job of keeping Carmona quiet except the play in which he conceded the goal. He picked up a knock, but was effective in using his physicality and pace.
Danilo was the weakest Real player of the first half, as he was consistently troubled by the nimble Isma Lopez playing on Gijon’s left. He improved his showings in the second half.
Luka Modric: 7/10
The Croatian midfielder turned in another brilliant performance which proves that he’s still got it at the age of 31. He was instrumental in spreading the ball around, as well as typically efficient in regaining possession with interceptions and tackles.
Mateo Kovacic: 7/10
Modric’s partner in crime is gelling into permanent life at the Real engine room perfectly. Kovacic produced another virtuoso performance, despite patches of inconsistency.
James Rodriguez: 6/10
The no. 10, who was handed another start despite not being in his best nick, turned in another less-than-James performance. He was unable to influence proceedings like his teammates in midfield.
Lucas Vazquez: 6/10
Lucas took his place in the starting XI in place of injured Gareth Bale. He won an early penalty and used his pace to create a number of half-chances, but was a little wasteful on the counterattack.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 8/10
He converted an early penalty and also bagged a brace with a powerful header that showed his wonderful reading of the game as well as his ability to outfox defenders. The Ballon D’Or looks well and truly his to lose this year.
Karim Benzema: 5/10
Benzema cut a rather anonymous figure, not getting into the right positions and committing a few turnovers in the process. He was also wasteful, failing to beat Marino with a couple of shots.
Marcelo – N/A
Marco Asensio – N/A
Isco – N/A