Benzema Spares Real Madrid’s Blushes At Leganes

Real Madrid dropped points for the second match in a row in a 1-1 draw at Leganes on Monday night at the Estadio de Butarque in Leganes.

Only a Karim Benzema strike early in the second half spared Los Blancos from a defeat against their rivals from the southern part of the city, who got a goal from Jonathan Silva in the waning moments before half-time.

There was no place for Gareth Bale in manager Zinedine Zidane’s starting XI, thus adding to the speculation that the Welshman will depart the Spanish capital this summer. Sergio Ramos and Toni Kroos also missed due to injury, meaning Nacho and Fede Valverde each got the nod.

Real came out looking for an early goal and some nice linking up between Isco and Marco Asensio ended with the latter shooting right at Leganes stopper Pichu Cuellar. Leganes managed to craft a chance of their own, with Siovas serving up a ball for Braithwaite, who headed just wide with Nacho closing in.

Leganes settled into their defensive shape and were forcing Real out wide on the wings, taking away any direct play into Benzema. Outside of an Isco free-kick that curled well over the crossbar, the Real attack mustered very little going forward after Asensio’s early chance.

Just when it looked like the first half would end scoreless, Jonathan Silva would strike to hand Leganes a 1-0 lead. Real failed to clear a long throw-in and Braithwaite was able to lay off a pass to the Argentine, who guided a left-footed shot past a late-reacting Keylor Navas for the score.

Real looked to respond right away after the re-start and a slick pass from Luka Modric for Benzema gave the Frenchman a crack at goal. Cuellar saved the initial effort, but Benzema quickly pounced on the rebound and fired in for the 1-1 equaliser.

Each team fancied a winner in the final half-hour and Real almost got it through Asensio, whose shot was blocked by Cuellar after a nice lead pass from Benzema.

Moments later Zidane summoned Lucas Vazquez off the bench to replace Isco, followed by the out-of-favour Bale getting in for the final 10 minutes in place of Asensio.

There was a premature celebration for the home fans when Youssef En-Nesyri rolled in a shot, but the linesman flag was up and replays showed the call was correct. At the other end it was a Benzema backheel that gave Marcelo a chance but the Brazilian fired right at Cuellar.

In the end, Zidane’s men had to settle for a sharing of the points to stay four points behind second-place Atletico Madrid in the table.

Match Sheet:

1.- Leganes: Cuellar; Nyom, Bustinza, Omeruo, Siovas, Silva; Ruben Perez, Vesga (Recio, min. 85), Eraso (El Zhar, min. 71); Braithwaite, Carrillo (En-Nesyri, min. 65).

1.- Real Madrid: Keylor; Carvajal, Varane, Nacho, Marcelo; Casmeiro, Modric, Fede Valverde; Asensio (Bale, min. 81), Isco (Lucas Vazquez, min. 77), Benzema.

Goals: 1-0, min. 45: Silva; 1-1, min. 51: Benzema.

Referee: Medie Jimenez (Catalonian).

Yellow cards: Carvajal (Min. 48) for Real Madrid, Asensio (Min. 61) for Real Madrid.

Red cards: None

Stadium: Butarque.

Attendance: 12.118.

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