La Liga 2019/20: Real Madrid struggle again at home with 1-1 Valladolid draw
Following their 3-1 away win over Celta Vigo on the opening weekend of the new campaign last time out, Los Blancos were expected to continue their bright start in-front of their passionate support at the Bernabeu. Instead though, the Whites delivered a disjointed performance which has increased pressure on Zinedine Zidane to thrust club-record signing Eden Hazard into the fray at the next available opportunity.
Gareth Bale made his second successive start, despite speculation over his long-term future at the club in recent months. He had an effort at goal early on, but his curling effort trickled harmlessly wide of the far post. Following two further attempts where the Wales international failed to trouble goalkeeper Jordi Masip, he finally registered a shot on target shortly before half-time - but that was comfortably dealt with by the former Barcelona 'keeper.
Talented young winger Vinicius Junior replaced James Rodriguez just before the hour mark, though the hosts' profligate finishing meant the Valladolid backline remained intact as time wore on.
New signing Luka Jović made his home debut in a 20-minute cameo as Isco made way for the young Serbian forward. A minute later, the alteration almost paid instant dividends as he let fly with a goal-bound header but watched it cannon back off the woodwork.
Ultimately, Real's pressure told after 82 minutes. Karim Benzema, who netted one and created another last weekend, found the bottom corner with a brilliant turn-and-finish after a fizzed assist into his path by compatriot and defender Raphael Varane.
However, the hosts' joy proved short-lived as sloppy defending in transition saw forward Sergi Guardiola beat Thibaut Courtois to slot home an equaliser two minutes from time after Oscar Plano's defence-splitting pass. Zidane responded by taking off Benzema for Lucas Vazquez, though that substitution proved futile as Valladolid held on to snatch a hard-fought point and confine Real to drop points in underwhelming fashion.Published 25 Aug 2019, 06:19 IST