It was a long time in coming but Real Madrid returned to LaLiga action with a 3-1 victory over Eibar at the Alfredo Di Stéfano stadium.
There were no fans, there was no Santiago Bernabéu but there were goals and there were three points for a Madrid side who needed to win to keep pace with Barcelona after the league leaders returned with a convincing win at Mallorca the night before.
And just like Barça on Saturday night, Madrid got off to a flying start as Toni Kroos’ sensational opener after four minutes gave Zinedine Zidane’s men the early lead.
It was just what the doctor ordered and further goals came from Sergio Ramos, from an Eden Hazard assist, and Marcelo as Madrid raced into as convincing 3-0 lead at the break.
The second half left plenty to be desired as the hosts took their foot off the gas and the visitors pulled a goal back but the three points were all that mattered after a three-month break to see Madrid keep pace with the leaders.
There were surprises in Zidane’s starting eleven with Marcelo starting ahead of Ferland Mendy and Rodrygo starting in attack alongside Karim Benzema and Hazard.
Madrid ran out 0-4 winners at the reverse fixture earlier this season and Zidane’s men found the going similarly comfortable in the first half on a strange evening at the Di Stéfano.
The only sour point was an injury sustained by Dani Carvajal but the right-back is expected to be available for Thursday night’s home match against Valencia.