Real Madrid restarted LaLiga Santander with a 2-0 win courtesy of a contentious late penalty from Karim Benzema followed by another strike from the Frenchman at Estadio Jose Zorilla.
It was expected to be a comfortable evening for Real Madrid but it was far from it, as Los Blancos once again relied on Thibaut Courtois to make the saves at one end and a little bit of luck at the other to take the points.
Madrid were calling for a penalty on 10 minutes when Dani Ceballos broke into the box down the left and cut the ball across goal. Javi Sanchez made the block which then flicked up onto his hand but a penalty was not given as the referee deemed his arm was in a natural position.
Minutes later, Benzema missed a golden chance. The ball fell to the Frenchman on the edge of the six-yard-box but his left footed shot flew way over the bar.
On 35 minutes, Courtois was called into action. Roque Mesa’s effort from outside the box was tipped over the bar from the Belgian.
Similar story in second half
Courtois again came to the rescue for Madrid in the second half. On 67 minutes, Sergio Leon’s header from a corner looked to be nestling into the bottom corner but Courtois made an even better save than the one in the first half to keep it goalless.
VAR to the rescue again
Then, on 82 minutes, came the breakthrough. Antonio Rudiger’s header was inadvertently handled by Javi Sanchez. The referee didn’t initially call it but was advised to check the monitor by VAR, and then awarded the spot kick.
Benzema stepped up and converted, bailing Los Blancos out after an average performance.
Then, to add the icing on the cake, Benzema benefitted from Vinicius’ fine work down the left before he lashed home past Jordi Masip.