By Juan Jose Lahuerta
Madrid, Dec 20 (efe-epa).- Real Madrid notched its fourth consecutive La Liga victory on Sunday, overcoming Eibar 3-1 on the road in a clash marked by two goals for the capital squad during the first 13 minutes of play, a deficit from which Eibar – nevertheless – had a decent chance of recovering.
The win brought Real Madrid even with league leader Atletico de Madrid in the La Liga table.
The match was played before empty stands – due to coronavirus gathering restrictions – at Ipurua stadium in Eibar.
Zinedine Zidane’s squad came to Ipurua at the best point in its season so far, with three wins in a row behind them and with an eye toward extending their streak in a stadium where historically they have almost always triumphed, with the exception of a 3-0 loss during the 2018/2019 season.
Croatian midfielder Luka Modric was brilliant for Madrid during early play, eclipsing great early showings in games by other players like Karim Benzema, Bryan Gil and Kike Garcia.
Madrid moved quickly to strike twice – the first time when Benzema found the net after the Balkan wizard Modric initiated a play with a pass from outside to Rodrygo Goes.
Benzema, whom Zidane last week called the greatest-ever French center-forward, manufactured the second goal in the 13th minute when he slid inside, finding and passing to Modric, who knocked in a right-footer from the edge of the area for the tally.
A third shot on goal three minutes later – this one a header by Benzema after a pass from Modric – did not get into the net.
Eibar saved itself from being blanked on a spectacular curving shot in the 28th minute that he got by Thibaut Courtois’ goaltending efforts.
There matters stood until injury time, when Vazquez put the icing on the cake for Madrid in the 93rd minute with a nice shot from a tight angle after Benzema brought the ball in close.
Although the final score looked somewhat lopsided, Eibar was a worthy opponent and the give and take, back and forth, was ongoing throughout the match, with Madrid getting worn down by the Basque Country team’s insistent pressure.
Both teams were pretty tired by the last 15 minutes of play, with Eibar trying time and again to tie things up, but ultimately the capital boys finding the twine one last time for a fine finish.
With the win, the capital squad is behind its crosstown rival Atletico – which are two games ahead – on goal differential but have a better head-to-head record, which is the way even La Liga teams are un-tied at the end of the season.
Barcelona, meanwhile, are five points in back of the two capital teams.
Eibar sits in the 14th spot on the La Liga table.
Eibar: Dmitrovic; Pozo, Bigas, Arbilla, Kevin; Inui (Pedro Leon, m. 72), Edu Exposito, Diop (Sergio Alvarez, m. 82), Bryan Gil; Kike Garcia (Miota, m. 83) and Muto.
Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; Casemiro, Modric (Valverde, 72), Kroos; Lucas, Benzema and Rodrygo (Asensio, m. 72).
Official: Munuera Montero showed a yellow card to Eibar’s Arbilla in the 43rd minute.