Eden Hazard scored and set up Karim Benzema for his first of two goals as Real Madrid eased to a 4-1 victory at Alaves in LaLiga on Saturday, ending a winless run in a match that coach Zinedine Zidane missed after he contracted the coronavirus.
Hazard grazed a long pass to redirect it to Benzema to double the lead for Madrid in the 41st after Casemiro had headed in the 15th-minute opener.
The Belgium forward scored just his third goal of the season in first-half injury time to build a 3-0 lead at the break. Toni Kroos recovered possession in midfield and picked out Hazard’s run behind a disordered defensive line to score past goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco.
Eden Hazard managed to silence some of his critics as he netted his first goal in LaLiga for Real Madrid since October
The Belgian attacker was picked out by team-mate Toni Kroos and he continued his run before sliding it into the corner
There was clear delight on Hazard’s (right) face as he was congratulated by team-mates having scored before half-time
Joselu Mato pulled one back for Alaves on the hour-mark when he headed in Lucas Perez’s free kick but it was nothing more than scant consolation.
Benzema, who was the man of the match, made it a brace in the 70th after Luka Modric played him clear on the break. The French striker cut back inside the last defender before firing in his 10th goal in the league this campaign.
Second-place Madrid reduced the gap to leaders Atletico Madrid to four points. Atletico have two games in hand, starting with its home match against Valencia on Sunday, but their city rivals did their job in maintaining pressure.
The promising performance by Hazard comes amid growing impatience shown by Madrid’s fans, and some unfavorable comparisons in Spanish sports media to former star Gareth Bale, who was also injury prone during his time in Spain. Hampered by injuries, the 30-year-old Hazard has not lived up to the club-record fee plus add-ons two seasons ago.
Brazilian defensive midfielder Casemiro (far right) gave Real Madrid an early lead and from then they never looked back
With Zinedine Zidane positive for Covid-19 earlier in the week, assistant boss David Bettoni walked the touchline instead
Madrid assistant coach David Bettoni was on the touchline at Mendizorroza Stadium after Madrid made public on Friday that Zidane had tested positive for COVID-19. Bettoni said on Friday that Zidane was “feeling fine.”
The win over struggling Alaves came after Madrid had lost two chances for titles in recent days and dropped points in two of its last three league games.
After being held 0-0 at Osasuna in the league, Madrid lost to Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey semifinals and was dumped from the Copa del Rey on Wednesday in a 2-1 loss at third-tier Alcoyano, which scored the winner with 10 men.
Alaves, which was celebrating the 100th anniversary of its foundation, was left one point above the relegation zone in a third consecutive loss under new coach Abelardo Fernandez.
Karim Benzema hit a brace and was once again the jewel in Real Madrid’s attack as he made lightwork of Alaves’ defence
The Frenchman threw his arms out wide in celebration as he has now risen to 10 goals in LaLiga already in 2020-21 season