Real Valladolid 0-1 Real Madrid: Casemiro heads Zidane's men within three points of Atletico Madrid

By Sports Desk February 20, 2021

Casemiro scored the only goal as injury-hit Real Madrid earned a 1-0 win at Real Valladolid to close the gap on LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid to three points.

Atletico lost for just the second time this season in the league earlier on Saturday to open the door, and their city rivals took full advantage at Estadio Jose Zorrilla with a fourth win in a row, the last three of those secured without conceding.

Zinedine Zidane's side failed to register a single shot on target in the first half of a league game for the second time this season and required Thibaut Courtois to produce three big saves to keep them level.

But Madrid, who were without striker Karim Benzema and eight other first-team players, made the breakthrough thanks to Casemiro's 65th-minute header and saw the game out to up the pressure on Atleti, who have a game in hand to play.

Courtois made the first of his key saves inside seven minutes to keep out Fabian Orellana's poked effort and then Saidy Janko's follow-up shot as Valladolid, also denied a strong penalty shout for Casemiro's tackle on Kike Perez, made a bright start.

Casemiro powered a free header over the crossbar from the edge of the six-yard box from Madrid's only clear-cut legitimate opportunity of a lacklustre first half, though Mariano did correctly have two goals ruled out for offside.

Lucas Vazquez fired in Madrid's first on-target attempt six minutes into the second period - a simple stop for Jordi Masip to make in the Valladolid goal - after Casemiro had guided another header off target.

The visitors would fallen behind three minutes later if not for Courtois, who saved Orellana's volley and spared the blushes of team-mate Ferland Mendy in the process - the full-back having crossed the ball straight to the opposition player.

However, it proved a case of third time lucky for Casemiro as he headed Toni Kroos' superb set-piece back across goal and away from Masip to open the scoring for the reigning champions.

Valladolid had another penalty appeal rejected, this time for Nacho Fernandez's challenge on Shon Weissman, as Madrid held on for what could yet prove to be a crucial win in the title race.

Related items

  • Klopp praises Liverpool's best Goodison Park performance after Merseyside derby rout Klopp praises Liverpool's best Goodison Park performance after Merseyside derby rout

    Jurgen Klopp labelled Liverpool's 4-1 win at city rivals Everton as their best performance at Goodison Park in recent years after the Reds earned Merseyside bragging rights.

    Jordan Henderson opened the scoring before assisting Mohamed Salah's opener as he became the first Liverpool captain since 2005 to lay on an assist and get on the scoresheet in a Premier League game at Everton's ground.

    Salah, who has been directly involved in at least one goal in each of his last 12 top-flight fixtures, then added a second as he became the first Red to register a brace away in the Merseyside derby since September 2008.

    Diogo Jota struck in the second half to cap off another productive outing, with Demarai Gray's first-half strike that initially halved the deficit proving irrelevant in a fruitless performance by Rafael Benitez's Everton on Wednesday.

    Klopp, who lost his last Premier League game 2-0 against Everton, praised Liverpool's display as he revelled in the away performance.

    "It was a really good game from my team, a really mature performance, grown-up performance, much better than in years before, especially at Goodison," Klopp told Amazon Prime Video post-match.

    "We were much too open when we gave away the goal but it can happen when you are superior. We should have been one or two-nil up before we scored the first goal.

    "We scored the goals at 2-0 and maybe then we were not that ruthless, we gave them so life back. I am not seeking for perfection, if it would be easy I know everyone could do it. The boys did well."

    The former Borussia Dortmund head coach also indicated Salah, who has now scored 13 times in the league this season to top the charts, was frustrated at not recording a hat-trick in a dominant display.

    "He [Salah] was angry after the game!," he added. "He wanted to score the third one. I don't take these things for granted. 

    "His second goal, you have to force these kinds of mistakes. Mo put Coleman under pressure to win that ball and from then on it is a good chance he will score.

    "We have momentum but it was by far the best performance since I've been at Liverpool at Goodison. Before the game people told me that in derbies form or shape doesn't count, I see it totally different."

    Liverpool are third in the Premier League standings, two points behind leaders Chelsea after 14 matches.

  • 'Real Madrid never give up' – Ancelotti proud of character in Athletic Bilbao win 'Real Madrid never give up' – Ancelotti proud of character in Athletic Bilbao win

    Carlo Ancelotti was pleased with Real Madrid's ability to grind out a 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao after acknowledging they were far from their best at the Santiago Bernabeu.

    Karim Benzema, who also scored in the 2-1 win over Sevilla at the weekend, grabbed the only goal of the game in the 40th minute with his 12th strike of the LaLiga season.

    The France international has now scored 35 goals in 46 games for Madrid across all competitions in 2021, equalling his best goalscoring tally in a single calendar year for Los Blancos (35 goals in 50 games in 2019).

    The hosts had to work hard for a fifth consecutive LaLiga win, with the visitors taking 18 shots on Thibaut Courtois' goal.

    Indeed, their expected goals against indicator of 2.7 was the highest Madrid have had in a match this season in all competitions.

    "It is true that our opponents had more rest than us, and they are very good," Ancelotti told a media conference.

    "In the first half, we did well. In the second we failed with more passes than in the first, and we suffered.

    "The ability to suffer is a quality of the team. We know how to play football, and we know how to suffer when the football we want to play isn't happening.

    "Real Madrid never give up. Our character and commitment is very strong. Sometimes when we can't use our quality, we are able to use other qualities.

    "I liked the ending more than the first half – we were missing something then."

    The result moved Madrid seven points clear of Atletico Madrid in second, although Diego Simeone's men have a game in hand.

    Los Blancos are next in action on Saturday when they travel to third-placed Real Sociedad, and Ancelotti accepted he might be forced into making changes to his starting XI.

    "The team has finished tired, and we will have to analyse it," he added.

    "It is normal when you play against a fresher team that it costs you at the end a little. I must assess whether to make changes for the next game. We have three games very close [together], without time to rest.

    "I have to think carefully about the decisions, but the streak is very good, and I am very satisfied with everyone: with those who play, those who play for five minutes, and those who do not have a minute.

    "The atmosphere in the team is very good; I like it."

  • Lillard out for 10 days with abdominal injury Lillard out for 10 days with abdominal injury

    Damian Lillard has been ruled out for at least 10 days with an abdominal injury, the Portland Trail Blazers confirmed on Wednesday. 

    The All-Star point guard has been managing the injury all season and sat out Tuesday's 110-92 win over the Detroit Pistons. 

    An MRI scan confirmed Lillard was suffering from lower abdominal tendinopathy. He will be evaluated again in 10 days, ruling him out of games against the San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors. 

    The Blazers star is averaging 21.5 points per game this season – his worst record since the 2015-16 campaign – while shooting 39.7 per cent from the floor and just 30.2 per cent from three-point range. They would both represent career lows for a season. 

    Portland also confirmed that Nasir Little would miss a week of action with a left ankle sprain. 

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.