LIGA BBVA | REAL MADRID 4 - GETAFE 1
Insatiable Cristiano hits brace as Real Madrid seal Getafe win
Madrid recovered from Ángel Lafita's early opener for Getafe as goals from Pepe, Cristiano (2) and Isco saw Carlo Ancelotti's men claim victory.
It was a strange, unusually hot September evening at the Santiago Bernabéu. Gareth Bale suffered an injury in the warm-up and Getafe opened the scoring after four minutes. It all felt like a mirage: confusion reigned as Cristiano and the Real Madrid defence claimed a (soft) foul on the Portugal international, and Ángel Lafita took advantage. His shot was by no means a bad one, but the touch it took off Pepe on the way turned it into a lethal one. The odd Madridista could be seen reading coffee grounds for bad omens.
But there were none. Madrid emerged from the early setback as one emerges from a cold shower: reinvigorated and full of energy. Suddenly, they started to play. To move the ball, look for off-the-ball runs and make up the lost ground. And they did so without succumbing to temptation: neither the rhetoric of tiki-taka, nor the populism of the desperate backlash. There are several reasons for that, beginning with Ángel di María. With him, everything is that bit easier: with him, everyone is on the move, either infected by his energy or by the fear that they may be knocked over by the skinny, dynamic Argentinian.
Alongside Di María emerged the figure of a now rested Asier Illarramendi. There had been concern over the 23-year-old, but fear not. He has class, intelligence, a natural sense of order and a touch of brashness that, though contained, will be crucial to him if he wishes to thrive in this jungle.
Getafe, so determined to avoid major errors, were undone by minor ones. Karim Benzema was fouled a good distance from the penalty area, handing Madrid the free-kick that saw them equalise. To counteract Real’s aerial threat, the visiting defence positioned itself so far from their goal that a banqueting hall could have been opened in the gap they left. Cristiano found his way into that space, with time to control before getting his shot away. Keeper Miguel Ángel Moya’s save was in vain as Pepe, standing on the goal-line, was on hand to knock in the rebound.
Real’s next goal arrived following a rush of blood from Alexis, the Getafe defender coming together with Pepe outside the area and opting for a pre-emptive attack. Míchel then completed the disaster for Luis García’s men as he was penalised for handling the resulting free-kick as it hit the wall. Cool as a cucumber, Cristiano converted the penalty.
What the duel then lost in intrigue, it gained in entertainment. It was Isco’s moment: the youngster seems to have his own slot reserved in every game he plays. Cristiano took a quick free-kick and the ex-Málaga man gleefully accepted CR7’s pass to advance into the box and curl an exquisite shot into the far corner.
It was also Benzema’s moment (but not in a good way), as his profligacy provided confirmation that he is far from his best in front of goal. Álvaro Arbeloa saved him from the wrath of the Bernabéu crowd, asking for the fans’ support after the Frenchman’s umpteenth miss. The fans had their fingers in their mouths ready to whistle their striker, but cast their minds back to the hapless cartoon chicken Calimero and other characters from their childhood, and put their hands together for Benzema.
Having drawn level with Hugo Sánchez on 207 goals for Real Madrid, Cristiano then overtook the Mexican with a backheel in time added on. And it was by no means a tap-in: Sami Khedira fired a powerful ball across goal, and the forward swivelled to score in a movement that required speed, precision and flexibility – all of which the Portuguese has in spades. The fiesta ended in an explosion of confetti, with Getafe’s goal and Bale’s injury just distant memories.