Real Madrid were beaten 2-1 by Valencia at the Mestalla in an enthralling game of football in La Liga last night. Voro’s men ended Los Blancos’ six-match unbeaten run in all competitions and defeated them for only the second time in 15 league encounters.
Two early goals by Valencia got them off to a flyer within the first ten minutes of the game itself as Real Madrid’s defence was left in shambles.
However, Cristiano Ronaldo pulled one back for Zidane’s men, but his team could not equalise or go ahead thanks to some spirited defending from Valencia. This will surely make the La Liga title race even more interesting despite Real Madrid being one point ahead of Barcelona and two ahead of Sevilla with a game in hand.
Here are the player ratings:
Diego Alves: 6.5/10
The Valencia goalkeeper made some good saves that prevented Real Madrid from scoring, however, Los Blancos did not test him as much all through the game. Apart from routine stops, he made a brilliant save to deny Benzema in the 22nd minute and avoided a mix up with Cancelo by parrying it away in the 35th minute. He could nothing to stop Ronaldo’s header though.
Joao Cancelo: 6.5/10
Cancelo stopped James Rodriguez all through the game and minimised his influence on the match. He was involved in the build-up to Zaza’s goal by passing it to Munir on the right flank. He made a vital clearance from a Carvajal cross in the 44th minute. However, he was at fault for not closing down Marcelo for Ronaldo’s goal.
Ezequiel Garay: 8/10
Garay was the standout player on the pitch in the game. He was dominant in the air and cleared everything quickly in typical no-nonsense fashion. He got to everything early on in the 6th and 8th minute, the latter, a headed clearance, started the counter attack for Valencia’s opener.
He made crucial clearances in the 35th minute when Benzema was looking dangerous and later towards the end in the 90th minute to deny Ronaldo. He defended deep and marshalled the back-line well against his old club.
Eliaquim Mangala: 7/10
Mangala played aggressively and tackled hard through the game, especially while battling with Karim Benzema. He headed off a corner in the 7th minute but he was at fault positionally against Ronaldo for the Portuguese star's header. He blocked Benzema’s effort in the 48th minute and then made a bone-crunching challenge on French striker in the 67th minute that got him a booking.
Jose Luis Gaya: 6.5/10
Luis Gaya caused quite a few problems for Real with his constant running up and down the left flank. He used his pace well but his crossing wasn’t the best in the game. He got Varane booked in the 59th minute after he was shifted to left wing following Nani’s substitution.
Dani Parejo: 7/10
Parejo had a few shots that tested Keylor Navas like in the 29th minute from a free-kick. He took a poor shot in the 39th minute but had a great effort saved after beating two Real Madrid players in the 61st minute.
He was instrumental in pulling the strings in midfield picking out important passes that released his team-mates on the counter attack on a number of occasions and held up the ball well.
Enzo Perez: 6.5/10
Perez was full of bite and energy in midfield breaking down play when necessary. He got booked in the 54th minute but made two good blocks in the 50th minute to deny Kroos and later in the 91st minute to deny Bale.
Fabián Orellana: 7/10
Orellana took his goal well slotting through the legs of Keylor Navas in the 8th minute. He played admirably until he was on the pitch until being substituted by his manager Voro in the 55th minute.
Munir worked hard up front making various runs out wide and even tracked back on numerous occasions. He fought for the team all over the pitch and assisted Zaza’s opener with a good cross to find the Italian inside the box.
Nani started off brightly and even assisted Orellana with a great pass that split the Real defence and found his teammate in space, 1 v 1 against Navas in goal. However, he got injured in the 38th minute and was substituted.
Simeone Zaza: 7.5/10
Maybe Zaza can’t take penalties, but he sure knows how to score a spectacular goal. He had his back to goal and his touch made the ball get away from him, but the Italian swivelled and hooked a shot in one motion into the Madrid net stunning the Madridistas at the Mestalla.
It was a brilliant goal that got the stadium on to their feet in joy. He should have seen his side get a penalty after Carvajal tripped him in the box. Apart from that, he worked hard and showed plenty of desire and industry up front causing Real’s defence problems until he went off in the 74th minute.
Guilherme Siqueira: 6.5/10
Siqueira came on for Nani in the first half and slotted in at left back well. He shored up the left flank and let Luis Gaya attack as a winger as well. He kept out the threat of Bale and Carvajal considerably well.
Carlos Soler: 6/10
Soler came on for Orellana in the 56th minute and played a vital role in making sure his side did not concede further. He made sure that there were always bodies in the box when Real Madrid attacked.
Mario Suarez: 5/10
Mario Suarez replaced Zaza in the 74th minute and like Carlos Soler added an extra man in midfield for his side to close out the game.
Keylor Navas: 5.5/10
The keeper did not have his best game as he conceded two goals. He made a few good saves to deny Parejo in the 29th minute and the 61st minute. But he could not do anything to stop Zaza’s brilliant strike and he should have done better to prevent Orellana's goal. The second goal was just poor goalkeeping by the Real Madrid keeper.
Dani Carvajal: 6.5/10
Carvajal had a slightly above average game for Real Madrid. He was lucky to not to concede a penalty after he clearly tripped Zaza in the box in the 30th minute. He then crossed well in the 35th, 39th and the 41st minute. He continued to whip in more crosses in the second half as well in an effort to get his side ahead but it came to nothing.
Sergio Ramos: 5/10
Ramos tried to score a late equaliser with a half-volley in the 90th minute but he fired wide. He had a poor game by his high standards and was clearly not concentrating enough early on leading to the whole defence being exposed for both the goals.
Rafael Varane: 4/10
If Ramos was poor, Varane was worse. This was the Frenchman’s worst game for Real Madrid in recent memory. He had a chance up front in the 2nd minute but then turned into a liability for his team. He almost got sent off for the judo kick to the face of Luis Gaya which got him a yellow card.
He could not contain Zaza at all and made numerous mistakes positionally until Zidane quite rightly brought him off for Nacho in the 73rd minute.
Marcelo kept getting knocked throughout the game but made a telling assist to Ronaldo in the 44th minute with a perfectly guided cross. He performed much better in the second half making good runs and putting in a few crosses but they led to no goals. He had one last shot in the 91st minute that went wide as well.
Casemiro was trying to replicate his goal against Napoli in the 78th minute but his shot went horribly over the bar. He wasn’t as dominant and energetic in midfield as he usually is and his tackling wasn’t as clean as well.
Toni Kroos: 7/10
Kroos kept spraying passes across the pitch and linked up play well with his teammates. He was perhaps Real’s best player on the night, but he did not offer a telling through ball or perfect set-piece delivery for his teammates.
He took a couple of shots in the 50th and 59th minute but Enzo Perez blocked the first one and the second one deflected out for a corner. He needs to get more creative in games.
Luka Modric: 6.5/10
Modric supported his midfield partner Kroos well, but like the German, he could not make a telling contribution in the final third. He appeared a bit jaded and was slow to react to a second ball in the box in the 66th minute that Alves gathered.
He could have done better by making more probing runs and taking on players to create space as he has that in his locker.
James Rodriguez: 4/10
Rodriguez finally got a chance to show Zidane why he should be started more in games but he badly disappointed. The Colombian was invisible for large spells in the game. He got a couple of half-chances but was largely missing in the game. Zidane then quite rightly took him off in the 61st minute for Bale.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 7/10
Ronaldo is not his usual deadly self anymore and age is slowly catching up to the former Manchester United attacker. He rose well to score a trademark header in the 44th minute from Marcelo’s cross but only threatened with shots from outside the box in the game, that were nearly there.
He continues to remain trapped in the doldrums following his best season ever last year.
Karim Benzema: 6/10
Karim Benzema had an average game for Real against Valencia. He got into many tussles with Mangala but the defender came out on top most of time. He took a good shot which was saved in the 22nd minute by Diego Alves, he then had an effort blocked by Mangala in the 48th minute and as he began to threaten, he was clattered hard by the centre-back which shook him up for the rest of the game.
Gareth Bale: 6/10
Bale came on and looked threatening, making an instant impact from the bench. He swung in a teasing cross in the 70th minute and then had a shot deflected in the 88th minute and a header that was blocked by Enzo Perez in the 91st minute. He should have been brought on earlier in the game.
Nacho played well after coming on for Varane and made a few important body checks on the opposition. He probably should have started ahead of the Frenchman in this game.
Lucas Vasquez: 4/10
Vasquez came on a little too late in the 77th minute and couldn’t affect the game much.Published 23 Feb 2017, 10:07 IST