Real Madrid returned to winning ways in La Liga with a hard-fought 2-0 win at Eibar on Sunday, courtesy of Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo strikes.
James Rodriguez did not start Wednesday’s 4-3 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League, but he replaced Isco on the right wing of Rafa Benitez’s 4-2-3-1 formation, although the front four would interchange.
Other changes for Los Blancos – in their first League game since last weekend’s Clasico humbling – saw Keylor Navas back in goal, Pepe fill in for the injured Raphael Varane and Mateo Kovacic come into the hole.
Both sides made it clear from the outset that attacking was their remit. Eibar had lost just twice in their first 13 League games and were flying high in seventh, and their best chance came from Takashu Inui’s shot from outside the box, which took a deflection en route to Navas.
Madrid, on the other hand, saw less of the ball but created more in the way of opportunities, Ronaldo notably failing to lifting a one-on-one over Asier Riesgo, but Bale popped up with less than two minutes to spare when he headed home Luka Modric’s cross.
A dull second half was witnessed as Madrid, despite not being given a moment’s rest, did not encounter too many problems in their ability to see out the match.
The points were consequently sealed in the final 10 minutes, when substitute Lucas Vazquez was felled by Dani Garcia’s back leg in the box. Up stepped Ronaldo, who ensured his afternoon ended with a goal, albeit from the penalty spot.
Dani Carvajal trudged off in the dying embers with a suspected muscle injury, but his replacement Karim Benzema came the wrong side of the post away from curling home his first goal in almost two months.
Eibar 0-2 Real Madrid
Bale 43, Ronaldo pen 82
Eibar: Riesgo; Capa, Pantic, Dos Santos, Junca; Garcia, Adrian (Verdi 70), Escalante; Saul (Hajrovic 85), Enrich (Arruabarrena 86), Inui
Real Madrid: Navas; Carvajal (Benzema 89), Nacho, Pepe, Danilo; Kroos, Modric; James (Vazquez 65), Kovacic (Casemiro 79), Bale; Ronaldo
Referee: Gil Manzano