Match Report: Real Madrid 3-1 Malaga
La Liga, Santiago Bernabeu
Real Madrid kept pace with Barcelona at the top of La Liga as goals from Sergio Ramos, James Rodriguez and Cristiano Ronaldo ensured all three points for Carlo Ancelotti’s men against Malaga on Saturday night.
Ramos opened the scoring midway through the first half before James doubled Madrid’s advantage in the 69th minute with a superb strike. Juanmi, who bagged the winner for the Costa del Sol club in their victory at Barcelona, kept the visitors in it with a goal just minutes after the Colombian’s strike but Ronaldo, who earlier struck a penalty against the post, got on the scoresheet to make sure of the victory.
The only blot on Los Blancos’ copybook were injuries to Gareth Bale, within the opening minutes, and Luka Modric late on. The Croatian is set to miss the rest of the season through a knee injury while Bale is awaiting tests on his injury.
Madrid had to respond to Barcelona’s victory over Valencia earlier in the day and Ancelotti opted for a 4-4-2 line-up with Ronaldo and Bale in attack given the injury absence of Karim Benzema. Isco came into the midfield, Pepe replaced Raphael Varane at centre-back and Alvaro Arbeloa was preferred to Dani Carvajal at right-back.
Madrid made a bright start but suffered a blow as early as the second minute when Bale came off with a calf injury and was replaced by Javier Hernandez in attack.
That stifled the encouraging opening and allowed the visitors into the game, with Nordin Amrabat striking a shot on goal that was comfortably saved by Iker Casillas.
Madrid responded and ‘Chicharito’ almost made a name for himself when he met a cross but forced a good save from Malaga goalkeeper Idriss Carlos Kameni.
That chance lifted the hosts and the opener came in the 24th minute to settle some of the home nerves. Ronaldo whipped in a free-kick and Ramos rose high to power into the back of the net. The visitors appealed for offside but those appeals fell on deaf ears.
Madrid started turning the screw and after James had a good chance to double his side’s lead, Ramos had the ball in the back of the net again, this time from a Toni Kroos free-kick, but this time it was correctly ruled out for offside.
Malaga would not let Madrid add to their tally and when Ronaldo had a chance of his own in the second half he scooped his opportunity over the bar. At the other end, Amrabat ensured Madrid still knew they had a game on their hands when he flashed a chance just wide.
Modric’s setback came on the hour mark when he was helped off with his knee injury and Asier Illarramendi came on to replace him.
It did not change the flow of the game, however. Madrid had a great chance to make it 2-0 when James was upended in the box but Ronaldo struck the post. It was a rare miss from the spot from the Portugal international but it was not long before Madrid did find their second as James rifled an effort into the net from the edge of the box.
The visitors had a way into the game when Juanmi turned in a cross to narrow the deficit but Ronaldo ensured his side the points, and ensured he got on the scoresheet, when he made it 3-1 in added time.
Real Madrid: Casillas, Arbeloa, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo; Kroos, Modric, Isco, James; Ronaldo, Bale. Substitutes: Navas, Nacho, Carvajal, Lucas Silva, Illarramendi, Hernandez, Jese.
Malaga: Kameni, Rosales, Sergio Sanchez, Boka, Angeleri, Sergi Darder, Recio, Samu, Juanmi, Amrabat, Samu Castillejo. Substitutes: Ochoa, Miguel Torres, Filipenko, Tissone, Duda, Javi Guerra, Ricardo Horta.