Solari boost as Madrid beats Valladolid to end winless run
ABS-CBN Sports on Mar 11, 2019 07:07 AM
Real Madrid's Karim Benzema, celebrates his second goal beside Alvaro Odriozola against Real Valladolid during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Valladoid FC at Jose Zorrila New stadium in Valladolid, northern Spain, Sunday, March 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press
MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid recovered from an early scare to beat Valladolid 4-1 in the Spanish league on Sunday, halting its three-match losing streak and easing some of the pressure on coach Santiago Solari.
Madrid was outplayed by its relegation-threatened rival early on and was fortunate to go into the break at 1-1. Karim Benzema and Luka Modric scored after the interval to help Madrid end its slump.
Solari's Madrid was coming off a humiliating 4-1 loss to Ajax that eliminated the team in the round of 16 of the Champions League, and before that it had lost two in a row to Barcelona — in the semifinal of the Copa del Rey, and in the league. The losses, all at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, practically ended the team's chances of winning a title this season.
They also left Solari on the brink of being fired following what was one of the worst weeks in Madrid's recent history. The former player is not expected to remain at the club's helm going into next season.
The victory left Madrid five points behind second-placed Atletico Madrid and 12 points behind leader Barcelona with 11 matches remaining. Barcelona beat Rayo Vallecano 3-1 at Camp Nou Stadium on Saturday, while Atletico defeated Leganes 1-0 at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.
Valladolid, owned by former Brazil and Real Madrid star Ronaldo, has lost four straight and is winless in six league matches. The promoted club is 16th in the 20-team standings.
It didn't look good early on for Madrid as the hosts dominated and had three great chances by the 20th minute — a missed penalty kick by Ruben Alcaraz and two goals disallowed for offside, including one after video review. Valladolid has wasted all five penalty kicks it had this season.
Valladolid finally opened the scoring when Anuar Mohamed found the net from close range in the 29th. But the lead didn't last long as Valladolid gifted Madrid an equalizer five minutes later when goalkeeper Jordi Masip missed the ball while trying to punch it away, leaving Raphael Varane with an open net in front of him.
Benzema put Madrid ahead by converting a penalty kick early in the second half and added to the lead less than 10 minutes later. Modric closed the scoring after clearing a defender inside the area in the 85th.
Madrid played a man down from the 80th after Casemiro received a second yellow card for keeping an opponent from taking a free kick.
Madrid was without captain Sergio Ramos because of a suspension, while Gareth Bale, Vinicius Junior, Lucas Vazquez and Dani Carvajal were absent because of injuries.
A problem with the lighting system at the Jose Zorrilla Stadium forced players to warm up in the dark and prompted the possibility of the game being suspended.