Madrid, Sep 30 (efe-epa).- A goal in the 65th minute by Vinicius Jr. was the difference here Wednesday for defending LaLiga champions Real Madrid against 18th-place Real Valladolid.
The Brazilian international broke the deadlock eight minutes after coming in as a sub for Luka Jovic, who continues to struggle in his second season with the Blancos after coming over from Eintracht Frankfurt.
Coach Zinedine Zidane gave Jovic a rare second consecutive start with Eden Hazard sidelined by injury.
Despite their having 63 percent possession, the hosts were ineffectual in the final third. Valladolid goalkeeper Roberto Jimenez was tested only once in the first half and responded with an impressive stop to deny Fede Valverde.
Three other Real Madrid chances – including two for Jovic – came to naught.
Valladolid, meanwhile, grew in confidence as the minutes passed and both Fabian Orellana and Waldo put shots on Thibaut Courtois’ goal before the break.
Jimenez swatted away a Jovic header at the post off a corner early in the second half and watched a strike by Casemiro bounce harmlessly off the cross-bar.
Then it was the turn of Courtois to shine with a stop on Valladolid’s Shon Weissman.
The call was close enough for Zidane to make a triple substitution, swapping out Jovic for Vinicius, Isco and Marco Asensio and Alvaro Odriozola for Dani Carvajal.
Vinicius exploited Valladolid’s only major defensive miscue of the night, dispossessing Bruno and slipping the ball past Jimenez to put the Blancos up 1-0 with 25 minutes left.
But the Brazilian’s goal turned out to be the high point for the home side on the attack and Courtois was called upon twice more to secure the victory.
The win lifted Real Madrid into a four-way tie for the lead with Getafe, Valencia and Villarreal.
Each of the clubs is on 7 points, but Getafe and the Blancos have a game in hand on the other two.
Earlier Wednesday, the Blancos’ cross-town rivals were held 0-0 by SD Huesca.
Diego Simeone’s Atletic Madrid squad dominated possession and outshot 16th-place Huesca 16-9, but only two of those shots were on target, including an effort by Luis Suarez.
The result leaves the Colchoneros in the eighth spot with 4 points from two matches.
In Villarreal, Paco Alcacer had a brace to lead the hosts 3-1 over last-place Alaves.
Alcacer scored in the 13th minute, but the visitors pulled level in the 37th minute as Edgar took advantage of a massive blunder by Villarreal keeper Sergio Asenjo.
The teams looked set to go the dressing rooms at 1-1 until a VAR check led to a penalty and Gerard Moreno converted from the spot to give Villarreal a 2-1 edge.
Moreno was denied by the post in the 66th minute, but the rebound rolled to Alcacer for the easy goal.