Thursday, December 2, 2021

Elche 1-2 Real Madrid: Vinicius brace justifies Ancelotti´s Benzema decision

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 30 Oct 2021

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Vinicius Junior stepped up in the absence of Karim Benzema by scoring twice in Real Madrid’s 2-1 win over 10-man Elche in Saturday’s LaLiga clash.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti took a calculated risk to rest Benzema for the game at Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero, and his side got the job done to move level with leaders Real Sociedad, who play Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Vinicius swept a delightful opener past former Madrid man Kiko Casilla with 22 minutes played, and Elche’s task was made all the more difficult when Raul Guti was dismissed shortly after the hour mark.

Brazil international Vinicius doubled his tally 17 minutes from time and, despite a late consolation for substitute Pere Milla, Madrid saw the game through to get back to winning ways on the back of their midweek stalemate against Osasuna.

Rodrygo and Mariano were surprisingly selected in Madrid’s frontline, with the likes of Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic, Isco and Marco Asensio among the substitutes.

But Madrid were forced into an early change when the injured Rodrygo was replaced by Asensio, and they would have been behind a minute later if not for a good Thibaut Courtois save to keep out Lucas Boye’s powerful strike.

Elche edged the first-half chances but fell behind to Vinicius’ eighth goal in all competitions this term, as he fired across Casilla after being played in by a sublime back-heeled flick from Mariano on his first appearance of the season.

The hosts continued to look a threat as Lucas Perez somehow fired wide with plenty of the goal to aim for and Guti blasted a volley straight at Courtois.

That momentum was halted when Guti was issued a second yellow card for sliding in on Toni Kroos, however, and Vinicius made Elche pay with a chipped finish over Casilla from an acute angle.

A Casemiro error gifted Milla the chance to pull one back just five minutes after being introduced, though that proved to be nothing more than a consolation for the home team.

What does it mean? Ancelotti gamble pays off

With Madrid on a run of just one win in their last four league games, including goalless draws with Villarreal and Osasuna, Ancelotti made a brave call in leaving out star man Benzema and bringing in a number of fringe players.

Since the start of the 2020-21 season, Madrid had won just one of their four league games without the France international, who has been in superb form this term with 11 goals and eight assists in 13 appearances.

The visitors were not exactly at their best in this contest, but thanks to Vinicius’ double they did enough to come away with a 10th win in 11 encounters with Elche in LaLiga.

Vinicius continues to grow

A day after being left out of Brazil’s latest squad, Vinicius sent out a message with a couple of well-taken strikes, coming from his three shots in total.

He has now scored nine goals for the season, with seven of those coming in 11 LaLiga outings – one more than he had managed in his previous 64 appearances in the competition.

Sloppy Casemiro punished

Madrid were perhaps not as comfortable as they should have been in the final stages of the game after Casemiro’s wayward pass was intercepted by Dario Benedetto and tucked away by fellow substitute Milla.

That was one of 14 occasions Casemiro lost possession – more than any other Madrid player – but the Brazilian otherwise impressed alongside fellow experienced midfielders Luka Modric and Kroos.

What’s next?

Madrid are back in Champions League action on Wednesday with a home match against Shakhtar Donetsk, while Elche have an eight-day break before travelling to Real Mallorca.

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