clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Merengues Ease Past Hércules Ahead of Lyon Clash

Real Madrid put the onus on Barcelona to keep up their winning streak at Sevilla on Sunday with an assured 2-0 win against giant-killing Hércules.  Benzema scored goals on either side of halftime to secure three points for Los Blancos in a match that the Castellana side never looked like losing.  Madrid played the game at a fairly slow pace, no doubt in order to conserve energy for the crucial Lyon tie in in midweek.

Mourinho decided to rest a number of key players ahead of the Lyon match, including the Portuguese centerback duo Pepe and Carvalho as well as Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira, who made a return from injury as a substitute.  Top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo also missed the match through injury, although he is scheduled to play against Lyon.  Casillas started in goal, with Albiol and Sergio Ramos in central defense flanked by Arbeloa and Marcelo.  Lass, Granero, Özil and di María lined up in midfield behind the offensive pairing of Adebayor and the red hot Benzema.

Benzema came into the Hércules game with five goals in his last three games and did not disappoint in his dress rehearsal for the match against his hometown club with another brace.  Los Vikingos started strongly, dominating possession and pinning Hércules deep in their own half.  Hércules did manage to string together a good sequence of possession, however, resulting in a shot by Portillo and an easy save by Casillas.

Aside from a couple of good Granero efforts from free kicks, Madrid failed to create any clear-cut chances until the 24th minute, when the electric Özil slipped a beautiful pass to put Arbeloa through on the right and the Spaniard played a perfect square pass into the path of Benzema's clever run for the Frenchman to finish emphatically with a drilled shot.  Hércules responded well but failed to take advantage of their possession before the halftime whistle.

Just after the restart, Adebayor was unlucky not to get his name on the scoresheet as di María's lobbed pass found the unmarked Togolese, whose shot cannoned off the crossbar with the keeper beaten.  Catalayud was then forced to make a good save to keep out Benzema's shot from a narrow angle after another good bit of play from the diminutive Argentine.

In the 56th minute, Benzema grabbed a second with a superb piece of individual skill, latching onto a great ball from di María setting him free on the left before cutting inside, beating a defender, touching the ball onto his stronger foot and then lashing a fine strike inside the far post.

After going 2-0 up, Mourinho made several changes, bringing in Khedira and Alonso for di María and Granero, perhaps with the idea of allowing the first-choice pair some minutes before the Champions League game in midweek.  Los Blancos peppered the Hércules goal with a series of chances, but Catalayud stood strong to keep the scoreline respectable, saving from an excellent Özil free kick as well as shots by Marcelo, Benzema and Adebayor.

With this victory, Mourinho's men find themselves four points behind Barcelona before the Catalan club's game in the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán against Sevilla.  Even if Sevilla manage to take full points off of Barça, Madrid would still need to beat the Catalans in the Bernabéu and hope that Barcelona draws or loses again in order to have a chance of winning the league.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Managing Madrid Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Real Madrid news from Managing Madrid