Real Betis 0-1 Real Madrid (Dani Carvajal). Here is the immediate reaction to the win at the Benito Villamarín. Still to come: player ratings, press conference quotes and the ManagingMadrid podcast.
Amongst all of the chaos the last week has brought along, Real Madrid had a fixture to fulfil. The trip to Real Betis is rarely smooth sailing, and with multiple players continuing to sit out with injuries - this one would be no different. The left hand side was so depleted with both Marcelo and Ferland Mendy out, that Castilla starlet Miguel Gutiérrez was brought in to start in their place. Other surprises included the benching of Eden Hazard, as Gareth Bale kept his starting spot in attack. Karim Benzema captained the side today.
The first half was as open as they come, with Real Madrid looking dangerous in attack - often with Isco involved in the build up. At the other end they could well have been behind at the break if not for Thibaut Courtois putting in his usual heroic shift. He made an excellent diving save to deny Nabil Fekir from a tricky free-kick. The game was far from secure, with both teams failing to gain control or calm the intensity down. Either team could have scored multiple times on another day. Despite the scrappy play and constant openings, the half managed to finish goalless.
Madrid kicked off the second half with some much needed authority. Benzema came very close with a headed effort after Gareth Bale delivered a delightful cross, but the keeper did well to palm the ball away. A minute later an identical sequence saw the ball in the back of the net, but Benzema was offside as he headed the ball past the keeper. It took a nervy couple of minutes to create the opening goal, as Betis found themselves two against one around the Real Madrid box on the counter. They could only pass the ball into Miguel, and the ball was then quickly moved up field, with Benzema crossing the ball in for Dani Carvajal to volley home sweetly. David Alaba was almost forced into scoring an own goal after Betis replied quickly, but Madrid managed weather the resulting corner and get the ball clear. Other than some miscellaneous efforts from Víctor Camarasa for Betis, and substitute Marcos Asensio for the visitors - the chances appeared to dry up towards the end of the game. That was, right until the very end, when Christian Tello squared the ball in the box to Martín Montoya, but Courtois was there once again to deny a disastrous finish with a good save. That save confirmed the 1-0 score line, with Madrid taking all three points back to the capital. The win momentarily lifts Real Madrid to the top of the table with two wins from three games. Did you enjoy this win? Be sure to stick around for both player ratings, and the post game podcast.