Real Madrid vs. Real Betis: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction
Real suffered an early setback when left back Marcelo was forced to leave after just 15 minutes due to injury. He was replaced by 19-year-old rising star Raphael Varane, who impressed yet again as his development continues.
For the vast majority of the first half the score remained 0-0, but it wasn't due to a lack of chances. The match was wide open, with both clubs creating their fair share of opportunities on dueling counterattacks. It was a very entertaining pace.
Among the best chances were a pair of narrow misses. The first came off the foot of Cristiano Ronaldo, who ripped a shot off the post. A short time later, Betis' Dorlan Pabon let go a cracking strike of his own that struck the crossbar.
Who was the Man of the Match?
The Blancos finally broke the deadlock right before halftime. Ozil and Karim Benzema connected on a perfect give-and-go play that allowed Ozil to break free inside the box. The talented midfielder made no mistake as he put it past Adrian to make it 1-0.
After a helter-skelter start to the second half, Real was able to stretch their lead to two in the 57th minute on a nice tic-tac-toe play. It finished with Cristiano Ronaldo making a perfect touch to a streaking Benzema, who calmly beat Adrian.
Just when it looked like the Blancos were putting it into cruise control with 20 minutes left, Betis broke away on a two-on-one rush that resulted in Nacho taking down Ruben Castro in the box. He was booked, and Jorge Molina converted the penalty to make it 2-1 in the 73rd minute.
The Beticos continued to pressure into the final minutes of the match. The closest they came was when the ball eluded Diego Lopez and rolled toward the line. Luckily for Real, Raul Albiol was there to clear it away at the last moment.
Real Madrid finished it off with a second tally from Ozil in the 90th minute to end the tension and complete the victory.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid): B
Far from the Real superstar's best performance of the campaign, but still another strong showing. Perhaps the most underrated aspect of Ronaldo is the amount of attention he draws from the defense. It helped open space for runs on each of the club's first two goals.
In typical fashion, he also gave the fans a highlight-reel play to enjoy. About midway through the second half, he dribbled Javier Chica into a knot. Even though the smooth moves only resulted in a corner, it was a memorable moment.
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid): A
A tremendous all-around performance from the 25-year-old striker. A constant threat in the Betis final third, he played a perfect through ball to Ozil for the opener and then made no mistake when he got in alone against Adrian early in the second half.
Jose Mourinho will be happy to have seen this type of showing from him ahead of Wednesday's Champions League match. It gives the Real manager some flexibility on the attack. After a couple minor knocks, he was subbed in favor of Gonzalo Higuain with under 20 minutes to go.
Ruben Castro (Real Betis): C+
Castro did well to attack the box with aggression on the counterattack, which left Nacho no choice but to take him down or allow him to unleash a rocket strike. He chose the former, and it resulted in Betis putting the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu fans on the edge of their seats for the final portion of the match.
He failed to make a major impact outside of that break, though. Given how open the run of play was, it should have been a match where Castro was able to generate multiple good scoring chances. It didn't happen, and the club's comeback bid fell short.
Adrian (Real Betis): C
Hard to place sole blame on Adrian for either of Real's first two goals. Both came after perfect setups that allowed dangerous finishers to stride in alone. Ozil and Benzema are going to convert those chances a majority of the time, and they did Saturday.
At the same time, Betis could have been one big save away from emerging with a point, but he couldn't provide it. He wasn't forced to make many big saves, as the Blancos dropped into a defensive shell in the second half before adding the clinching goal late. An average showing overall.
Real Madrid begin preparing for the first leg of their Champions League semifinal against German side Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday. It's followed by a rivalry clash with Atletico Madrid next weekend.
Real Betis' bid for a European spot continues a week from Monday against Deportivo. The Beticos should expect to earn all three points at home in a battle with the relegation-threatened side.
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