Goals from Mariano (2) and Vallejo sealed a fifth successive home win in a game which saw players and fans alike send a show of support to Casillas.
- LA LIGA
- MATCHDAY 36
2Real Madrid clinched a fifth consecutive home win as they got the better of Villarreal in an intense and enthralling affair full of chances which ended 3-2. Goals from Mariano and Vallejo saw the Whites take all three points, while Vinicius Jr. made his return from injury. It was a special afternoon at the Santiago Bernabéu which kicked off with an emotional show of support from the players and fans inside the stadium for their eternal captain Iker Casillas.
The game began at break-neck pace, with chances and goals taking no time to materialise. There were not even two minutes gone when Mariano got on the score sheet to net Real Madrid’s quickest goal of the season after Brahim stole the ball from Cazorla and played the forward in to make it 1-0. The impressive start enjoyed by Zidane’s charges came close to yielding further goals but Andrés Fernández was equal to two vicious shots from Mariano and then Lucas Vázquez. It was Villarreal who did find the net next, when Gerard Moreno drew things level with an unstoppable left-footed drive which flew past Courtois in the eleventh minute.
Vallejo opens his tally
Despite the goal, it was Madrid who continued to look dominant as they strung together another run of decent chances. On 14’, Carvajal unleashed a superb volley which cannoned back off the post, before Kroos and Marcelo both tried their luck from outside the box. The Whites were taking the game to their opposition and wreaking havoc down both wings. Villarreal were a constant threat though, creating danger whenever they came close to the madridista area and with 32 on the clock, Chukwueze forced Courtois into a fine stop. The visitors looked sharper in the closing stages of the first period but it was then that Madrid took the lead once more. Vallejo pounced on a loose ball inside the box after a Marcelo shot to hit his first goal for Real Madrid.
MARIANO SCORED REAL MADRID’S FASTEST GOAL OF THE SEASON.
Zidane’s men flew out the blocks again after the restart, and swiftly added to their advantage. Valverde sent a ball out wide to Carvajal, who whipped in a cross for Mariano to complete his brace (49’). Far from settling for 3-1, the Whites continued to stream forward and with 57 minutes gone, Brahim was a whisker away from converting a sublime effort. The Malaga-born ace was clever to find space in the box but his fine strike was beaten away by Andrés Fernández. With half-an-hour still to go, Zidane brought Isco and Asensio into the action.
Vinicius Jr. makes his comeback
Villarreal were not about to throw in the towel as they continue in the relegation dogfight. Chukwueze was their most incisive outlet throughout and it was he who once again tested Courtois from distance but the goalkeeper was more than equal to it (64’). The game opened up and Marcelo immediately tried his luck up the other end, with Andrés parrying this time. It was the 74th minute which saw the hotly anticipated return from injury for Vinicius Jr., with an impressive Brahim coming off for the Brazilian moments after nearly adding to his tally. Villarreal were looking to cut the deficit and enjoyed chances through Chukwueze, Mario and Gerard but none could find the back of the net. Vinicius, settled into the game quickly and looked a constant nuisance, carving out a good chance to score on 82’, but the visiting keeper was in the way again. In the back-and-forth, Jaume Costa converted to make it 3-2 in time added on. Zidane’s men will now be hoping to close out their LaLiga campaign with a further two wins in their remaining games.