Real Madrid returned to the top of La Liga with a hard-fought 3-1 victory over Osasuna on Saturday, but it was overshadowed by another terrible ankle injury.
Madrid lined up in a 3-4-1-2 formation with Isco in the hole against Osasuna, in what was their first game in two weeks due to bad weather at Celta Vigo last weekend and damage to the Galicians’ stadium. Sergio Ramos was also making his 500th appearance for the club, Nacho Fernandez his 100th.
Osasuna, meanwhile, had lost just two of their six games under sporting director-turned-Coach Petar Vasiljevic and suffered defeat in only one of their five previous visits of Los Blancos.
Madrid almost enjoyed a quick start through Karim Benzema, whose half-volley flashed into Salvatore Sirigu’s side-netting.
However, another bad injury – following on from Aleix Vidal’s earlier in the day – was sadly witnessed when a horrific collision between Tano Bonnin Isco resulted in the defender’s ankle hanging loose in his sock.
Back to the action, and Keylor Navas did well to keep his eyes on a shot that deflected towards him, tipping it wide of his left-hand post.
The same couldn’t be said, however, for Salvatore Sirigu, who let a shot from Cristiano Ronaldo squirm through his legs from a tight angle.
Still, Osasuna ensured they went into half-time on level terms, albeit in some style, as a sublime finish from Sergio Leon saw him break clear of the Madrid defence and emphatically chip Navas.
Madrid then had a glorious opportunity to regain their lead through Benzema, who had the goal at his mercy from Ronaldo’s low cross, only to be denied by Sirigu’s excellent scrambling save.
Osasuna had a great chance to pull ahead almost immediately after the restart when Leon – the Pamplonans’ most expensive summer signing at €1.7m – cut inside from the left and bent a shot on target that Navas needed to tip around his right-hand post.
Danilo was the next player to leave the pitch on a stretcher as he received a nasty-looking stamp on his ankle from David Garcia, but the right-back’s exit forced Madrid to revert to four at the back.
Los Merengues consequently regained their lead when Carlos Clerc stopped Benzema in the box, but his interception was quickly pounced on by Isco, who angled a finish across Sirigu and into the back of the net.
Ronaldo was then threaded through by a long ball along the deck, but Sirigu was off his line early to smother, before Navas had to get down low to push a shot away.
Lucas Vazquez should’ve wrapped up the win for Osasuna as he had the goal at his mercy from James Rodriguez’s cutback, but the winger was denied by a perfectly-timed challenge.
Still, he got his goal deep in injury time when he poked a finish past Sirigu at his near post to ensure Madrid moved back to the top of La Liga, a point clear of Barcelona with two more games in hand.
Osasuna 1-3 Real Madrid
Leon 33 (O) Ronaldo 24, Isco 62, Lucas 90 (RM)
Osasuna: Sirigu; Bonnin (Garcia 15), Oier, Vujadinovic, Fuentes (Clerc 53); Bergantinos, Tienza (Loe 61), Causic, Jaime; Riviere, Leon
Real Madrid: Navas; Varane, Ramos, Nacho; Danilo (James 57), Modric, Casemiro, Marcelo; Isco (Kovacic 88); Benzema (Lucas 72), Ronaldo
Referee: Iglesias Villanueva