The feel-good factor at Real Madrid under returning hero Zinedine Zidane fell flat as Los Blancos fell to a first defeat under the Frenchman’s second spell in charge – beaten 2-1, and beaten well, by Valencia.
It had been a fairly anonymous opening half until Valencia took a deserved lead 10 minutes before the interval. Real failed to clear a corner and Goncalo Guedes showed mesmeric feet to fashion a shooting chance, rifling a shot beyond Keylor Navas at the near post.
Madrid always carried a threat but couldn’t create any clear-cut chances and as they pushed for an equaliser they were always susceptible to the pace and intuition from Los Che on the counter-attack.
They killed the game off seven minutes before the end when defender Ezequiel Garay outmuscled Casemiro to nod in Dani Parejo’s corner. Karim Benzema headed in a consolation on the stroke of full-time that was harsh in the extreme on Marcelino’s men.
Here are our Real Madrid player ratings:
Keylor Navas – 6: Goalkeepers are always questioned when beaten at their near posts, but little could be done by the Honduran to keep out Guedes’ arrow of a strike. Nothing he could do for the second.
Alvaro Odriozola – 6: A tireless and committed effort from the full-back, even if he doesn’t try the flashy things Los Blancos fans thirst for. Didn’t give an inch in an intriguing battle with Guedes.
Raphael Varane – 6: Important interception of Daniel Wass’ pass stalled promising Valencia counter-attack. Two tackles, two interceptions and three clearances made for a busy night.
Sergio Ramos – 5: Won four aerials to lead Real but a somewhat subdued outing from the skipper who ordinarily wears his heart on his sleeve. Thought he’d won a late penalty but he was offside.
Marcelo – 3: Shooting was erratic as he continues to look a shadow of his former self. Struggled with pace of Carlos Soler and Wass and booked for a pathetic dive.
Casemiro – 5: Looked overrun, struggling to keep tabs on Valencia’s marauding midfielders. Lost Garay at the corner for the killer second goal.
Luka Modric – 6: Was neat and tidy and as elusive as always, but even though he dished out four key passes – two less than the team overall – could not find the key to unlock resolute Valencia defence.
Toni Kroos – 5: Neat snapshot was goal-bound but Neto made stop look routine. Stitched play together as always but withdrawn as Zidane looked to inject more incision into his attack.
Lucas Vazquez – 6: Busy and bustling performance from the livewire winger. Fouled four times as he often proved too quick for his markers. But aside from attracting attention, was shackled well.
Karim Benzema – 7: Has been Real’s shining light in a dim season, but struggled to impact proceedings. Fed off scraps until he nodded in a consolation right at the death.
Marco Asensio – 5: If anyone was going to spark Madrid into life, it looked like this man in the first half. Started brightly but faded badly as Valencia found their feet. Replaced by Isco.
Isco – 6: A 100 per cent pass accuracy from 16 he attempted, but aside from that, offered little incision.
Gareth Bale – 6: First contribution was a miss-hit cross. Things hardly improved for the Welshman. Had one goal-bound shot blocked for a corner.
Mariano N/A: Horribly miscued header looked likely to be missed when the referee awarded a penalty, but Ramos was offside.
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