Real Madrid were given the chance to return to the top of Spanish La Liga last night, if they were to win their away game against Deportivo Alavés. Despite going one man down in the second 45 minutes, Carlo Ancelotti’s men were able to regroup and find a stoppage-time winning goal to leave the enemy ground with all three points in this crucial Spanish top-flight football matchup. Let us now take a deep dive into the game that happened at Mendizorroza last night.
10-Man Real Madrid Found a 90+2nd-Minute Winner Against Deportivo Alavés
35-time Spanish champions Real Madrid were forced to play with 10 men for this match that would provisionally send them to the top of Spanish La Liga via a win, after Nacho was given his marching orders by the referee. The 33-year-old Spanish centre-back was involved in a clumsy challenge on 19-year-old Samu Omorodion, prompting the match official to award a yellow card at the first instinct, but he would then reverse the decision to a red upon VAR verification. It is worth mentioning that the red card was Nacho’s second in 12 league games played for Los Blancos in 2023/2024.
Although Deportivo Alavés had advantages in terms of the number of players and home ground, they could not penetrate through Real’s defence. Instead, it was the the 10-man side who found the only goal of the game late in the stoppage time. Veteran Toni Kross’s inch-perfect corner set piece cross found his unmarked long-time club teammate Lucas Vázquez, who then headed the ball into the back of the net. The 32-year-old right-back’s goal brought smiles to the faces at the Real Madrid camp since it sent them back to the top of Spanish La Liga.
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadrid) December 21, 2023
Real Leapfrogged Girona and Returned to the Top of Spanish La Liga
Los Blancos‘s 1-0 victory on enemy’s territory allowed them to leapfrog Girona and back to the top of Spanish La Liga; The Catalonia-based outfit led by 48-year-old Michel led for a big part of their own Matchday 18 game against Real Betis Balompié thanks to a first-half penalty by Ukrainian striker Artem Dovbyk, before the home team went on to level things up late, not only preventing Girona from extending their lead at the top of Spanish La Liga, but also causing them to slip into the second place of the league table due to goal differences against Real Madrid after Los Blancos’s win. (Click here for the full match details between Real Betis Balompié and Girona FC.)
View this post on Instagram
Ancelotti’s Statement About the Game and Real Returning to the Top of Spanish La Liga
64-year-old Ancelotti had this to say about the red card Real received in the game and was delighted about Los Blancos’s tenacity in adversities. He said: “It was a foul which the referee saw as a yellow card and the VAR saw as a red card. That’s the problem of football… Sometimes VAR decides, not the referee. Yes, because the game was complicated. With one man sent off, everyone thought we could slip up, but this team has unknown levels of energy. We defended well and we got the reward.”
The Italian also added remarks on a few of his players, starting with Vázquez, who scored the winning goal for Real Madrid, “That’s two games where we put Lucas in the box, he scored today and he gave the assist against Villarreal, because he’s very alive in the box”, followed by Jude Bellingham and Aurélien Tchouaméni, citing “Today was a foul, not dissent. He doesn’t have to change his attitude because that’s what has helped him score 14 goals. If he’s suspended for a game, someone else will play” and “He’ll get angry, but he’s a spectacular central defender. He plays very well, gets the ball out from the back like very few players can, he’s tactically aware”.
Ancelotti did not forget to give his thoughts on title contenders Girona’s frustrating 1-1 draw with Real Betis Balompié that led Real regain the first place at the top of Spanish La Liga. “Drawing against Betis isn’t so simple. I watched the game and they showed all the quality they’ve shown in the first half of the season. they don’t have European competition, and I think they will fight until the end, like Atlético Madrid and Barcelona, and, watch out, I think Athletic Club are doing very well too,” said the Real Madrid manager.
There will only be one more game left in the Spanish top-flight football in the calendar year of 2023, that is, Sevilla FC visiting Civitas Metropolitan Stadium, Madrid to face Atlético Madrid, meaning the title race at the top of Spanish La Liga will only resume early January 2024. Stay tuned to OtherLeague.com for the latest news in the Spanish La Liga as well as other football league and cup competitions in the world!