Eden Hazard scored his first goal for Real Madrid in 392 days, and it was a bit special.
His long-range strike to break the deadlock in the 40th minute of a 4-1 win over Huesca on Saturday was as spectacular as it was needed for both club and player. With chances few and far between in the first half, the Belgian went from zero to world-class in the blink of an eye.
Receiving the ball nearly 40 yards from goal, he left his marker for dead with a delightful spin before driving forward and launching an absolute rocket into the back of the net with his weaker left foot.
The strike was a bolt from the blue and made everyone sit up and take notice. Not a bad way to announce your return. It’s certainly worthy of being the featured highlight for what unfolded as a comfortable victory for Los Blancos.
However, while that was only Hazard’s second goal of his Madrid career, it doesn’t tell the full story of his much-anticipated return. In fact, it scarcely does his influence on the team justice.
🔥 HAZARD— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) October 31, 2020
🔥 BACK#RealMadridHuesca pic.twitter.com/UoaQcrqfSY
The impact of the 29-year-old’s true value to Zinedine Zidane’s side was better portrayed by the third goal of the day, one Hazard neither scored nor assisted but perhaps had the biggest hand in.
Facing his own goal some 20 yards inside Madrid’s half, he instinctively flicked a back-heel pass to Marco Asensio in the middle, leaving his marker in his wake as he sprinted forward to facilitate the transition.
Once Karim Benzema received the ball on the left, he darted down the flank and was found by the Frenchman. A tidy turn away from the defender was followed by a clever reverse pass back into the Madrid striker’s feet. Benzema’s cross then found Fede Valverde who drilled home the finish.
The move had Hazard written all over it and was greater evidence of his return than his goal itself.
Hazard's goal on his return was a stunner and warrants multiple views 🚀— Brendon Netto (@BrendonNetto) October 31, 2020
But his involvement in Valverde's goal exhibited his true value to this #RealMadrid team that often lacks invention 👀
That transition simply doesn't happen without him 🔥
With the job done, Zidane decided to preserve his star by replacing him just before the hour, a reminder that the Belgium international is still some distance away from being at 100 per cent. Once he is, expect to see a lot more of those trademark moves that became all too familiar at Stamford Bridge in years gone by.
Despite a relatively decent start to their La Liga campaign, it’s no secret that the Spanish champions have at times looked sluggish in the final third and short of ideas.
At his best, there are few more capable of switching through the gears than Hazard. Madrid just need to keep him on the road.