Football news - Patient Real Madrid beat Alavés to close gap on Barcelona
La Liga, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu - Real Madrid 3 (Benzema 30', Vinicius 80', Mariano 90') Alaves 0
Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema shone as Real Madrid showed patience to claim a 3-0 win over Alaves at the Santiago Bernabeu.
With the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg against Barcelona looming, Santiago Solari made a few changes to his team, with Marcelo and Dani Carvajal both rested. However, Gareth Bale was given a start as he continues his recovery from injury.
It took Real Madrid 30 minutes to break down the stubborn Alaves defence, with Benzema finishing from close range after a through ball from Vinicius had released left back Sergio Reguilon to the byline.
Real Madrid-AlavésGetty Images
Alaves remained stubborn and put up a fight in the second half, but Vinicius’ goal 10 minutes from time settled things, when he converted following a Marco Asensio cross.
And substitute Mariano Diaz made sure of the win with a diving header in stoppage time. The result sees Real Madrid bolster their position in third and close the gap on leaders Barcelona to eight points.
TALKING POINT - Vinicius Junior has raised the stakes for Gareth Bale
The home supporters inside the Santiago Bernabeu tonight must have anticipated the sight of a full-strength Real Madrid frontline on the pitch at the same time, with Bale handed a start alongside Benzema and Vinicius.
However, the Welsh winger was largely anonymous and was whistled at times by his own fans. The performances of Vinicius in recent weeks have raised the stakes for Bale and on this performance he’s not yet ready to reach those heights.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid)
The rise of the teenage Brazilian continues. This was another astonishing display from Vinicius, who created the opportunity for the first goal and scored the second. Real Madrid are now looking for the winger at every opportunity. Their best attacks flow through him. He makes things happen. Vinicius has arguably become Real Madrid’s most important player and he showed his quality once more in this game.
Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior scores their second goalReuters
30’ GOAL! Real Madrid 1-0 Alaves: Real Madrid have made the breakthrough and it's Benzema who has grabbed it! Reguilon was released into the box by Vinicius and the young left back found the French striker in the middle. He had the simple task of finishing from close range.
50’ Bale with the shot! That's much, much better from the Welshman. He controlled a Modric pass instantly, turned and got away the low shot, but Pacheco makes the diving save.
80’ GOAL! Real Madrid 2-0 Alaves: There's the goal that should wrap things up for Real Madrid! Asensio played the low cross in from the right, the defender misses it, the ball falls for Vinicius, and the Brazilian makes no mistake in sliding the finish past Pacheco! That's his first La Liga goal.
Real Madrid-Alavés ViniciusGetty Images
85’ Odriozola was through! That could, and perhaps should, have three for Real Madrid. Vinicius played through Odriozola, but the Real Madrid full back couldn't poke the shot past Pacheco.
90’ GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO... NO! Odriozola believes that he has added a third for Real Madrid, slotted through by Casemiro, but the flag was up for offside. Correct call.
91’ GOAL! Real Madrid 3-0 Alaves: Incredible way for Real Madrid to wrap up the points! Odriozola got to the byline and played the cross for Mariano. The former Lyon striker throws himself at it and emphatically powers a diving header into the back of the net via the inside of the post.
Vinicius Junior has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games at the Santiago Bernabeu (in all competitions).
Karim Benzema has scored in his last four games for Real Madrid (in all competitions) - his best scoring run since January 2017.
Alaves are still winless in the four games they have played since the departure of Ibai Gomez.