Eden Hazard scored his first goal for Real Madrid in over a year and his team appeared to turn a corner as they beat newly-promoted Huesca 4-1 in La Liga yesterday.
Hazard has had a terrible time with injuries since joining Madrid for 100mn euros ($113mn) from Chelsea in 2019 but the Belgian will hope his stunning strike from distance at the Alfredo di Stefano can kick-start his career in Spain. “I’m happy with his performance,” said Zidane. “The other day he played 20 minutes, now a little more. It’s step by step.”
Karim Benzema and the excellent Fede Valverde made the win secure before Huesca scored through David Ferreiro, only for Benzema to add his second and Madrid’s fourth in injury-time. Zinedine Zidane’s side jump above Real Sociedad to the top of the table to cap an encouraging week, which began with a Clasico win over Barcelona at Camp Nou and finishes with them moving nine points clear of the Catalans, who were playing away at Alaves late last night.
In between, Madrid came too close for comfort to another damaging defeat in the Champions League but two late goals salvaged a draw at Borussia Monchengladbach that in the end felt like a win. Huesca, who are yet to win this season, might feel the scoreline was harsh after they squandered early chances.
Madrid will hope the dip that put Zidane under pressure earlier this month is over. Zidane will have been particularly delighted with Hazard, whose goal was his first for Madrid since he scored against Granada in October last year, and his second overall in La Liga.
Ankle surgery kept Hazard out for the majority of last season and he was not fit for the start of this one, with Madrid only describing his latest setback as a “muscle injury”. But he made his first appearance off the bench in the Champions League in midweek and, against Huesca, marked his first start with a brilliant goal in the first half. “We know the quality that Eden has,” Zidane said. “He scored a good goal and we needed it in the first half, because after his first goal the game was different.”
Until then, Huesca had been the better team but Hazard’s strike turned the contest in the 40th minute, when he received the ball on the half-turn and swerved a superb shot into the corner from 30 yards out. Benzema made it two, chesting down Lucas Vazquez’s cross at the back post and driving in, before Valverde struck a sweet half-volley into the corner. Ferreiro gave Huesca brief hope with 16 minutes left but Madrid were never overly troubled and Benzema rounded off the win in injury-time, converting a smart header back from Rodrygo.
Joao Felix takes centre stage as Atletico down Osasuna
Later, Atletico Madrid forward Joao Felix scored two goals and was in the thick of the action as his side beat Osasuna 3-1 away for a third consecutive La Liga victory. The Portugal striker missed an open goal in the early stages of the game before giving his side the lead at the end of the first half from the penalty spot but then squandered a spot-kick at the start of the second period, hitting the post.
The 126-million-euro ($147mn) player soon made amends by getting Atleti’s second, blasting into the top corner to complete a sensational counterattack and score for the fourth time in two games after his double in Tuesday’s 3-2 Champions League win over RB Salzburg.
Osasuna did manage to strike back with a header from substitute Ante Budimir with 10 minutes to go but Atleti soaked up the pressure well and clinched the points with a late strike from Lucas Torreira, who superbly controlled a cross from Kieran Trippier on his thigh before smashing into the roof of the net.
The victory took unbeaten Atletico up to third in the standings on 14 points, two behind leaders Real Madrid. Also yesterday, Athletic Bilbao came from behind to beat Sevilla 2-1 at home with two late goals, inflicting a third consecutive league defeat on Julen Lopetegui’s side.
La Liga results
Real Madrid 4 (Hazard 40, Benzema 45, 90, Valverde 54) SD Huesca 1 (Ferreiro 74); Athletic Bilbao 2 (Muniain 76, Sancet 86) Sevilla 1 (En-Nesyri 9); Osasuna 1 (Budimir 80) Atletico Madrid 3 (Felix 43-pen, 69, Torreira 89)
Playing today (GMT): Real Betis v Elche (1300), Celta Vigo v Real Sociedad (1500), Granada v Levante (1730), Valencia v Getafe (2000)
Tomorrow: Villarreal v Real Valladolid (2000)
Played Friday: Eibar 0 Cadiz 2 (Negredo 36, Salvador Sanchez Ponce 39)
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