Deportivo Alaves 0-1 Real Madrid: Los Blancos Capitalize On Girona’s Slip Up To End 2023 As La Liga Leaders

Real Madrid Lucas Vazquez
Real Madrid Lucas Vazquez

Spanish giants Real Madrid traveled to Mendizorrotza Stadium for their La Liga Matchday 18 clash with Deportivo Alaves on Thursday night (December 21). The hosts held their own for the majority of the game, not allowing their lofty rivals to play their flamboyant brand of soccer. However, Carlo Ancelotti’s 10-man Madrid simply had an extra gear at their disposal, which allowed them to snatch a 1-0 win right at the death.

The victory, which came shortly after Girona were held to a 1-1 draw by Real Betis, pushed Los Merengues’ points tally to 45. Thanks to their superior head-to-head record over Girona, Madrid climbed to the top of the La Liga rankings, ensuring they finished 2023 as division leaders.

Lucas Vazquez Comes Good For 10-Man Real Madrid

Deportivo Alaves had a solid gameplan against Real Madrid. They defended deep, not allowing the likes of Jude Bellingham and Rodrygo to get comfortable in the final third of the pitch. As a result, both players had very little impact, especially when it came to creating chances and testing the goalkeeper.

Bellingham, who has arguably been the best player in Europe this season, failed to create even a single chance or have a go at goal. Rodrygo, on the other hand, had a could of shots, but only one of them required the goalkeeper’s intervention. Federico Valverde was the most threatening Madrid player on the pitch on Thursday, with the Uruguayan testing the keeper twice from his three shots.

Already struggling to put pressure on the opposition, Madrid suffered a massive blow in the 54th minute when center-back Nacho Fernandez saw a red card for a studs-up tackle on Samu Omorodion. The referee initially handed out a yellow card but changed it to red after having a look at the pitchside monitor.

The 35-time Spanish champions created an excellent goalscoring opportunity in the 75th minute when Toni Kroos released Rodrygo down the left flank. The Brazilian cut in swiftly but failed to keep his effort on target. Luckily for the traveling fans, Madrid did not take their foot off the pedal after the missed opportunity. Their efforts ultimately paid off in the second minute of added time when Kroos found an unmarked Lucas Vazquez from a corner. The make-shift right-back met Kroos’ sublime delivery with his head, thumping it into the ground and sending it into the back of the net.

Vazquez Had A Perfect Game Against Alaves

On a night when most of his ‘Galactico’ teammates failed to deliver, Vazquez personified Real Madrid’s never-say-die attitude. He fought for every ball, covered every blade of grass down the right flank, and scored a brilliant header to seal the game. In addition to scoring the goal, Vazquez completed 47 passes (89% accuracy), played four passes into the final third, won four of five attempted tackles, made six headed clearances, and recorded four recoveries. The Spaniard was also brilliant in one-on-one situations, winning six of seven ground duels.

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