Summer signings take Madrid top

Goals from Asier Illarramendi, Gareth Bale and Isco gave Real Madrid a 3-0 win over Elche this afternoon.

Cristiano Ronaldo was missing from Los Blancos’ XI, sitting out the last of his three-match ban – so Carlo Ancelotti went with Jese, Bale and Karim Benzema to lead the line. In the midfield, Illarrmendi came in for Luka Modric, whilst Raphael Varane played in place of Sergio Ramos at centre back.

The home team were looking to keep their unbeaten record going for a 26th match in a row, and they almost got off to the best possible start, only for Benzema’s early effort to be palmed away by goalkeeper Manu Herrera.

Fran Escriba’s men had a clear gameplan. They looked happy to sit deep behind the ball and try to hit the hosts on the counter-attack. But that wasn’t working early on as first Angel Di Maria, and then Jese, had shots on goal.

It was all Madrid, but there were worries that maybe they would pay for their profligacy in the opening exchanges. There were a few groans from the home crowd as Bale lost possession twice in quick succession, but he nearly made amends on the half hour mark, only for Herrera to intercept from Varane’s pass.

It was Jese however, who went closest to opening the scoring. A cross from Di Maria on the left-hand side found the youngster, who opened up his body on the edge of the area, but missed the target.

It looked like those missed chances would cost the Merengues, but it was an unlikely source that eventually got the breakthrough. Illarramendi shot from the edge of the area after a corner had been cleared, but the shot was deflected past Herrera, and nestled into the back of the net.

After the break, the hosts continued to look comfortable, but couldn’t seem to find that next gear to push.

It wouldn’t matter though if Elche continued to finish like Javi Marquez, who ballooned an effort over the bar from 15 yards with 55 minutes gone.

The away side didn’t create much else, and their opportunity to get something from the game went even further into the distance with 15 minutes remaining when Bale unleashed a rocket of an effort from 30 yards, which dipped in off the underside of the bar.

And it was another summer signing that made the points safe late on, as Isco danced around the defence before tucking a shot between Herrera and the near post.

Real Madrid 3-0 Elche

Scorers: Illarra 34 (RM), Bale 73 (RM), Isco 80 (RM)

Real Madrid: Diego Lopez; Arbeloa, Pepe, Varane, Carvajal; Illarra, Di Maria, Xabi Alonso (Casemiro 83); Jese (Isco 73), Bale, Benzema (Morata 81)

Elche: Herrera; Cisma, Botía, Lombán, Albacar; Rivera (Aaron 74), R. Pérez, Javi Márquez; Del Moral (Fidel 74), Carles Gil (Cristian 78); Coro