Under the floodlights of the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Real Madrid locked horns with Sevilla in gameweek 14 of La Liga on Sunday night. Third-placed Sevilla started the game only a point adrift of league leaders Real Madrid. A win would have propelled them to the top of the standings at the end of the matchday.
As expected, Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla started the game on the front foot and outplayed Real Madrid on every front. Their effort came to fruition in the 12th minute, when an unmarked Rafa Mir thumped the ball past Thibaut Courtois from a corner.
Sevilla kept coming at Los Blancos for the remainder of the half, but Madrid somehow managed to score a goal against the run of play. Sevilla keeper Yassine Bounou made a mess of a long-range effort to hand Karim Benzema a tap-in from point-blank range.
Real Madrid started the second half with more focus and matched Sevilla punch-for-punch. However, their winner did not come until the 87th minute. Man of the moment Vinicius Jr. scored the best goal of La Liga gameweek 14 to seal maximum points for the hosts.
Despite not being at their ruthless best, Real Madrid produced the result they needed to extend their lead at the summit. Here are the top five players who helped Real Madrid bag three huge points against a spirited Sevilla side on Sunday:
#5 Ferland Mendy
With David Alaba deployed as a centre-back, Carlo Ancelotti put Ferland Mendy on the team-sheet as the designated left-back.
Mendy put on an impressive showing against Sevilla, proving once again why he is the team’s first choice left-back ahead of Marcelo.
Defensively, Mendy was as solid as you would expect, winning nine duels out of 12. Offensively, he was even more impressive. His runs were difficult to track, with the Frenchman completing six of his eight tackles.
#4 Karim Benzema
Real Madrid’s leading goalscorer Karim Benzema was not at his best on Sunday. However, that did not stop him from coming up with the opener for Real Madrid.
Sevilla did well to keep a lid on the player for most of the match, but Bounou’s mistake was enough to undo all their efforts.
In the 32nd minute, Bounou failed to handle an optimistic effort by Eder Militao, spilling it into a dangerous position. The 33-year-old was the quickest to react and slotted it home from close range.
The strike marked Benzema’s 11th goal in La Liga this season, putting him firmly in the driving seat of the Pichichi race.