Three golden points and a match with moments that will long be remembered for Madridista’s. After a stop-start first half, Real Madrid revved their offensive engines and put Valencia to the sword, scoring three unanswered goals. The man of the moment was Marco Asensio, who scored a mere 10 seconds after his return to play from 11 months out. Not to be outclassed, Karim Benzema managed to score one of the goals of the season. Full match ratings below:
Thibaut Courtois—7: The Belgian had little to do in this match, with Valencia only managing to produce an xG of .12. He did face a bullet of a shot from Kondogbia, parrying it away with his large frame. Also managed to get enough of a touch on Rodrigo’s early effort which hit the post. A clean sheet and three crucial points - a job well done.
Dani Carvajal—7: After a rocky start and a poor clearance which led to Valencia’s disallowed goal, Carvajal came into his own. He nearly scored a brilliant individual effort in the 28th minute. With 106 touches, he was a constant outlet on the right flank as Fede and Modric roamed centrally. The fullback’s best defensive action came late in the first half to deny Ferran Torres a clear shot inside the box.
Raphael Varane—8: Immense – the French center back often does not get the credit he deserves. Played a crucial – almost sweeper like- role to allow Ramos to venture higher into midfield and aggressively step out. Dealt easily with any threat provided by Maxi Gomez or Rodrigo.
Sergio Ramos—9: Another brilliant display from the captain. Once again, he stepped forward to win the ball and release Madrid on a counter attack which would ultimately lead to the first goal. In the second half, the Andalusian astutely pushed further into midfield to aggressively cut out any of Valencia’s counter attacking opportunities.
Mendy—8: Another confident and composed performance from the fullback who provides great defensive solidity. Won all three of his aerial duels and proved he has more in his offensive toolbox than first meets the eye. Used a beautiful combination of his physical strength, speed, and technique to glide past Wass on the byline and feed Asensio for his goal.
Casemiro—7: A reliable performance from the defensive midfielder who hardly put a foot wrong in the second half. Look composed under pressure and per usual, had some crunching defensive tackles.
Luka Modric—8: The break seems to have reinvigorated Luka Modric who looks the fittest and most energized he has been for two seasons. Zidane afforded the 34-year-old a bit more attacking freedom in this match and he responded with a lovely “hockey assist” for Benzema’s opening goal.
Toni Kroos—9: The Germans performance may have gone under the radar, but he was simply sensational. Had a team high of 100 passes with a 95% completion accuracy, which included two key passes. Completed all 10 of his long balls and won all five of his ground duels. It was the German’s pass which released Asensio down the right flank to ultimately set-up the third and final goal.
Fede Valverde—6: Zidane plugged the Uruguayan into an unconventional right wing role and it stripped Fede of producing some of his best qualities.
Eden Hazard—7.5: Slowly but surely Eden is finding his best form again. Should have scored a 1 v 1 opportunity early in the first half, but made amends with a quick one touch assist to Benzema to help give Madrid the opening goal.
Karim Benzema—9: Take a bow, Karim, take a bow. The striker provided two goals with the second being a contender for goal of the season. Benzema will be crucial in the final stretch and Zidane will be delighted he is back in his goal-scoring groove.
Marco Asensio—9: A goal and an assist on your comeback after 11 months out from injury – it doesn’t get better than that! A moment the man from Mallorca will always remember.
Vinicius JR—7: The Brazilian is so terrifyingly fast that he would be a nightmare for any defender to see coming in for the final 20 minutes of a match. He constantly looked to play on the last shoulder of the back line. Had one moment where he was slotted through by Kroos and should have shot, but choose to dish off a pass to Marco Asensio which was quickly snuffed out by the Valencia defense.