Late dramatics provided talking points for what was otherwise a chippy, bad-spirited and overwhelmingly dire match between Elche and Real Madrid on Wednesday.
With Madrid nursing a one-goal lead in the second minute of second-half stoppage time, substitute attacker Richmond Boakye beat Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez to the near post with a header from Fidel’s cross on the counterattack.
The goal sent the home supporters into raptures, but just moments later Madrid were back in front, thanks to some poor marking by Carlos Sanchez in the Elche area, as the guests took a late corner kick.
Carlos Sanchez’ manhandling of Pepe caused referee Cesar Muniz to point to the spot, and in the 96th minute, Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up and scored what proved to be the winner at the final whistle.
Ronaldo had also opened the scoring from a 51st-minute free-kick that dipped over the wall and took a bounce before beating Manu Herrera at the near post.
Until that point, neither side had made much of an impression.
Elche, starting brightly, managed to force Lopez into making a pair of spectacular saves early in the first half, and they would end up ruing their wastefulness in front of goal when all was said and done.
Nevertheless, the home side will have been pleased with their overall display against the Spanish giants. Although they’re now winless in six games, Elche had an uncharacteristic performance that showed their potential (even if the team is destined for relegation).
Key Player Grades
Cristiano Ronaldo: A
He scored twice in difficult circumstances. The fact that both goals came from set pieces is representative of Elche’s physical approach to the encounter. Overall, it was a leader’s display from the 28-year-old, who touched the ball 66 times, attempted seven shots and sustained the lion’s share of Elche’s 23 fouls on the night. (All statistics courtesy WhoScored.com.)
Luka Modric: A-
By the time he was withdrawn in the 81st minute, Modric had not only stitched plays together for the Madrid buildup (completing 91 percent of his passes), but he also lent a hand in the defensive third, where he contributed an impressive five tackles to the cause.
Ruben Perez: B-
The Elche midfielder got stuck into Ronaldo on Wednesday and committed the foul that led to the first goal. Nevertheless, his manager will have been pleased with an overall performance that saw him dominate the centre of the park at times and basically suffocate Isco out of the match.
Elche’s next appointment is away to Celta Vigo on Sunday. On October 5, they’ll return home to host Espanyol. Following the international break, they’ll go back on the road to face Real Betis in Seville. Madrid, meanwhile, have the little matter of the derby match against Atletico on Saturday, and they’ll welcome Copenhagen to the Bernabeu in the Champions League next Wednesday. On October 5, they’ll be away to Levante.