Toni Kroos scored a stunning goal as Real Madrid beat Cadiz 2-1 to cut La Liga leaders Barcelona’s lead to two points on Thursday.
In the last league match before the end of the first half for Qatar Globalism In the cup, Carlo Ancelotti’s side were playing catch-up with their arch-rivals, who beat Osasuna on Tuesday.
The game threatened to turn ugly at times, as Cadiz repeatedly fouled Real Madrid winger Vinicius Junior, but Real Madrid got the points they needed thanks to an Eder Militao header and then Kroos’ stunning shot.
Lucas Perez pulled one back for Cadiz in the closing stages, ensuring that the second-place finisher did not keep a clean sheet at home in La Liga this season and conceded in seven consecutive league matches.
“We played a good game, except for the last 10 minutes,” Kroos told DAZN.
“We had chances but we suffered a bit because of the goal we conceded unnecessarily. I think we played a good game.”
Real Madrid went through the absence of striker Karim Benzema after he was unable to train on Wednesday, but he joined the French squad for the World Cup.
Without the Ballon d’Or winner, Real Madrid lacked the brilliance of attack, and perhaps some minds began to turn towards the upcoming tournament in Qatar.
However, Kroos did not lose focus and thanks to his assist and goal, secured the victory for Los Blancos.
Cut the gap
Pacha Espino’s long-range shot hit the crossbar for the visitors, but they had little chance before Real Madrid opened the scoring.
Militao headed in a cross from Kroos in the 40th minute and he did a good job of staying partly ahead and evading any defensive interest after a partially cleared corner kick.
The only other action in the first half came in the form of a bout of pushing and shoving between the teams, with Vinicius squaring up defender Vale, whose arm Rodrygo chipped away from the ball.
“They defend in their own way. I think we should be calmer and focus more on playing football.”
“If we fight back, they’ll make us play their game. That’s what they want, wasting time with every argument. I’d rather stay out of it and play football, because we’re better.”
Rodrigo was furious after the clash, as Vale’s swing towards him seemed deliberate.
“I don’t think it was (just) an accident,” Rodrigo told DAZN, “he did it on purpose, he looked at me and hit me.”
“It’s a shame because he later told me he didn’t do anything. I don’t know why VAR is there.”
And the second half was subjected to the fact that the former German national team player, Kroos, succeeded in standing on the feet of the crowd with a special shot after 70 minutes, as he hit the net from outside the area after a cross that deflected in his path.
The third should have arrived soon after but Luka Modric missed a midfielder gaping at goal after Vinicius cut in the ball in the penalty area.
Barely believing he missed, the Santiago Bernabéu chanted Modric’s name. After many years of immaculate service, the veteran Croatian midfielder could be forgiven this time around.
“I told him the Croatia squad had already been announced,” Ancelotti joked on DAZN.
“We could have scored the third goal, it was very simple, and then I struggled a bit, they scored a goal against you, but in the end we got three important points.”
Thibaut Courtois hit a shot that he should have handled better and Perez rallied to give Cadiz hope in the closing stages.
Espino could have equalized for the visitors, 19th, in the 93rd minute but headed in from close range as Real Madrid took the lead.
Earlier, Valencia beat Real Betis 3-0, with Andre Almeida scoring an excellent free kick at Mestalla, and Hugo Guillamon adding the second goal from the penalty spot.
Justin Kluivert scored the third goal in stoppage time, to achieve an impressive victory for the hosts, who rose to tenth place.
Betis, who finished 10 after Edgar Gonzalez was fired, could have moved up to third with his win but would finish sixth.
Rayo Vallecano drew 0-0 at home against Celta de Vigo.
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