Real Madrid snatched another late La Liga victory on Saturday afternoon, coming from behind to defeat Las Palmas 2-1 in Gran Canaria.
In the absence of the suspended Jude Bellingham, Madrid fell behind to a goal from their former academy player Javi Munoz after 53 minutes. Vinicius Junior equalised soon after but it was not until the 84th minute, a matter of seconds after his introduction from the bench, that Aurelien Tchouameni powered in a match-winning header.
Madrid’s scratchy victory takes them back to the La Liga summit, two points clear of Girona.
How the game unfolded
Carlo Ancelotti previewed Madrid’s trip to the Canary Islands by lamenting his side’s “lost solidity” in recent weeks. Madrid came into the contest having shipped ten goals across their last four games – as many as they had conceded in their previous 14.
Las Palmas have been solid all season. Garcia Pimienta’s side boast the second-best defence in the division but with a bloodless style – only three clubs have scored fewer goals than the promoted outfit.
A slightly cautious Madrid were well marshalled by their hosts for the first hour. On the rare occasions that the visitors managed to sneak past the stubborn mass of yellow, Alvaro Valles underscored his claim to be La Liga’s outstanding goalkeeper of the season. Bellingham was sorely missed.
The Las Palmas crowd had collectively groaned at their own side’s hesitancy in the first half but the hosts began the second 45 minutes with renewed vigour. A leaden first touch from Sandro Ramirez squandered a clear sight of goal within seconds of the restart but the Barcelona misfit was more measured a few minutes later. Side-stepping Antonio Rudiger, Ramirez drilled the ball across the box for Munoz to sweep beyond Andriy Lunin.
The rise of Bellingham and injury have nudged Vinicius down Madrid’s hierarchy this season. Yet, it was he who stepped up in the Englishman’s absence. Eduardo Camavinga, who also grew into the game, shrugged off the clawing advances of Mika Marmol to deftly scoop a pass over Las Palmas’ backline. Vinicius brought the ball down and brilliantly lashed it into the far corner with his weaker left foot.
As the clock ticked down, Tchouameni stepped off the bench to deliver a decisive blow that Bellingham would have been proud of. Madrid’s only consistent route to goal throughout a largely listless contest had been set pieces. Bursting in front of Juanma Herzog at a corner, Tchouameni thumped his header past Valles to snatch victory with six minutes to spare.
GK: Andriy Lunin – 6/10 – Skittish when presented with the ball at his feet under pressure but much more alert with his gloves.
RB: Dani Carvajal – 4/10 – Last week’s match-winner was far more clunky than clinical in an underwhelming display.
CB: Antonio Rudiger – 4/10 – Up against a hardly formidable opponent in the form of Ramirez, Rudiger was far too easily bypassed for Las Palmas’ opener.
CB: Nacho Fernandez – 6/10 – Kept his passing safe and simple.
LB: Fran Garcia – 6/10 – Chugging forward at any given opportunity but caught out by Marvin Park’s speed at times.
CM: Dani Ceballos – 3/10 – Flitted in and mainly out of the contest.
CM: Eduardo Camavinga – 7/10 – Given licence to push forward, Camavinga eventually injected some thrust with his vertical surges.
CM: Toni Kroos – 6/10 – Offered Madrid’s most regular threat to goal from set pieces.
AM: Brahim Diaz – 3/10 – So impactful off the bench in recent weeks, Diaz failed to deliver the same decisive performance from the start on Saturday.
ST: Rodrygo – 4/10 – Got away with a petulant slap on Valles’ head in the first half and could only offer a glimpse of his threat in flashes.
ST: Vinicius Junior – 7/10 – It’s no mean feat to beat Valles from such a tight angle on his unfavored flank.
SUB: Fede Valverde (59′ for Ceballos) – 5/10
SUB: Joselu (59′ for Diaz) – 5/10
SUB: Arda Guler (81′ for Rodrygo) – N/A
SUB: Aurelien Tchouameni (81′ for Camavinga) – 7/10 – Arrived on the pitch and in the box at just the right time.
Subs not used: Kepa Arrizabalaga (GK), Lucas Canizares (GK), Lucas Vazquez, Ferland Mendy, Luka Modric
Carlo Ancelotti – 8/10 – Rejigged the setup before the hour mark and his substitute scored the late winner. Not much more to be done from the bench.
Player of the match – Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid)
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