Just when it looked as if this was going to be one of those games where you have to work hard and settle for grinding out a result, Karim Benzema took the ball to the goal-line and executed the perfect cut-back for Cristiano Ronaldo to find the net; and from that moment onwards the game was virtually over. Gareth Bale provided a deft flick to send the ball past the Getafe goalkeeper to kill the game shortly afterwards, and when Ronaldo headed in the third goal towards the end, the prophets of doom were silenced.
It all came good for Real Madrid at the end of a week in which the Copa del Rey was conceded to city neighbours Atletico. Critics were made to eat their words as firstly Karim Benzema then Gareth Bale showed their value in pure footballing terms and Cristiano Ronaldo managed to show his worth simply by being in the right place at the right time. Benzema, so often the target for vicious criticism over the past few weeks, held on to the ball long enough to set up Ronaldo's opening goal in such a manner described by Carlo Ancelotti as ‘extraordinary'; and as the ‘key to winning the match'. It was no doubt welcome praise for the Frenchman from his coach, since of late Benzema has been the target of unjustified abuse, his work-rate questioned, and his ability as a striker doubted.
More on Getafe-Real
More on Getafe-Real
The fact that Benzema didn't score any of Madrid's other goals won't necessarily be held against him based on Sunday's performance which was a team effort all round, although psychologically a goal would have made a massive difference to his current mind-set.
Likewise, Gareth Bale will have taken pride in his memorable touch which guided the ball into the net for Madrid's second. Having taken the brunt of the recent criticism for Madrid's failure to progress in the Copa del Rey and the defeat in Valencia, Bale will have been doubly satisfied with Sunday's score. Well-used to taking the customary battering from opposing defenders which Getafe managed to bring to a new level, a clearly angry Bale appeared to draw inspiration from the rough treatment.
Again, taking a deep breath and coming back for more, accepting responsibility for taking free-kicks in goal-scoring positions, and laying the ball off with quick passes all served to contribute to the positives in his overall performance. With Ronaldo adding the third goal to finish the game which by that time was long over as a contest, a game that started off with Madrid looking hesitant and insecure turned out to be a comfortable win in the end.
The appointment of a new coach so often makes a difference to a team, and particularly in the early days when players who may feel aggrieved with the previous management or think that they have a point to prove tend to put their concerns to one side and try to impress the incoming supremo. Newly-appointed Getafe coach Quique Sanchez Flores looked to have had exactly this effect on his Getafe players in the early stages of the match when the home side managed to deny Madrid time and space in open play and generally made life difficult for Los Blancos. As a former Real player and Atletico coach who has now returned to the first club he ever managed at La Liga level, Quique will no doubt have tried to inspire his new players to play above themselves; and for a time they did, mainly in that opening period where they managed to frustrate the Madrid attack and packed the midfield in an attempt to deny Madrid possession.
However, there is no substitute for hard work and class; and in the end it was Madrid who came away with the points, thanks mainly to the combination once again of the front three of Benzema, Bale and Ronaldo. It's very easy to be hyper-critical when things are going wrong and equally very easy to go over the top with praise when things are going well; but somewhere along the line a happy medium needs to be found. On Sunday in Getafe, Madrid found that happy medium - grinding out a scoreless first-half before taking control and putting the final result beyond any reasonable doubt.