Real Madrid vs. Las Palmas: Winners and Losers from La Liga
Real Madrid surged three points clear at the top of La Liga after a 3-1 win over Las Palmas at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.
A fast start from the home team saw Isco and Cristiano Ronaldo both score in the opening quarter of an hour, essentially sealing a comfortable remainder of the game for Real even at that stage. Hernan pulled one back from a corner kick, but Jese restored the two-goal lead before half-time.
A shockingly poor second half yielded few real opportunities at either end, and it was something of a relief when the final whistle blew, with the scoreline unchanged from the 45-minute mark.
Here are all our winners and losers from the match.
Winner: Jese Rodriguez
He hasn't had as many opportunities this season as he would have liked, but Jese Rodriguez was very much the standout performer for Real Madrid as they beat Las Palmas.
His first-half display was full of creative dribbling and clever movement behind the defence, popping up on both sides of the attack to provide passes and shots on goal in equal measure. His goal, Real's third, was terribly defended and predictable in its nature, but perfectly executed nonetheless.
As the game slowed to a crawl in the second half, Jese's pace produced one of the few moments of excitement, and he was roundly applauded when subbed off late in the match.
Loser: Kiko Casilla
Real Madrid's first goal conceded at home this season came on the first match of the entire campaign that Keylor Navas was not present.
The Costa Rican has been the best player in the team this season and anything less than perfection from Kiko Casilla, on his competitive Real Madrid debut, couldn't possibly be looked at particularly favourably in terms of getting more game time in the future.
The former Espanyol stopper did make a couple of saves in the first half, though dropped one shot into a dangerous area to force himself to make another block and he wasn't dominant off high balls into the area either. A spectacular-looking save off a free-kick after the break was a "camera save" rather than actually necessitating anything untoward on his part.
A drab second half actually worked against Casilla, if he wanted some sort of involvement to show his qualities.
Real Madrid's controlling midfielder has played a big part in recent weeks, and his ability to destroy opposition attacks, while also being neat on the ball from the centre of the park.
Against Las Palmas he showed both sides of his game, being the main antagonist to disrupt Las Palmas' counter-attacks, but also scything them apart on several occasions with incisive passes into the penalty area.
Casemiro claimed the assist off the opening goal, fed into the path of Isco, and would have had another late on if not for the hesitancy in front of goal from Cristiano Ronaldo. Among the big-money signings and big-name attackers, Casemiro is—in a tactical sense—the biggest undroppable player in Benitez's system at this stage.
Loser: Quique Setien
Las Palmas boss Quique Setien has only been in the job two weeks, after replacing Paco Herrera, but he'll have to wait a while for his first win.
A switch in formation and an attempted emphasis to be more progressive and attack-minded with their play is admirable, but it was never likely to pay off against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu—and especially when combined with poor work on the ball in their own defensive third.
He'll have a little more time to get things going, of course, and took a point off Villarreal on his first game, but they look far from able to win matches and never gave themselves a chance this time out after the poor start against Real.
Winner: Rafa Benitez
Rafael Benitez won't care much for his team's sloppy marking off a corner that led to the goal for Las Palmas in the first half, but beyond that it was a satisfactory day.
His team scored three, looked like they could have scored plenty more had they kept their foot on the pedal—and, importantly, were able to play a reserved game in the second half to conserve energy for future challenges. As noted by Dermot Corrigan, Real face Paris Saint-Germain, Sevilla and Barcelona in their coming fixtures so it was hardly a surprise to not go for the jugular against significantly weaker opposition.
At the 10-game mark, Benitez and his Real Madrid side remain top of La Liga.