Real Madrid signed off for the World Cup break with a narrow 2-1 victory over Cadiz to close the gap on La Liga leaders Barcelona to two points.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side had picked up just one point from their last six available before tonight, but Eder Militao’s first-half header and a stunning volley from Toni Kroos ensured Los Blancos returned to winning ways.
Chances were few and far between in the first half before Militao headed his side in front from Kroos’ cross five minutes before the interval.
After the break, a rare opportunity for the visitors went begging when Ruben Sobrino’s shot was saved by Thibaut Courtois. And the Belgian goalkeeper sparked an immediate counterattack, with Federico Valverde’s goal bound effort deflected agonisingly over.
Real Madrid’s dominance was relentless and it finally paid off 20 minutes from time when Kroos doubled their lead with a sublime volley from distance that nestled in the bottom corner at the near post.
Luka Modric had been pulling the strings in midfield, but his performance was overshadowed by an inexplicable miss from point-blank range with the goal gaping.
Mistakes were starting to creep in as Courtois fumbled Theo Bongonda’s shot allowing Lucas Perez to thump home and halve the deficit to set up a nervy finale. The unthinkable nearly happened when Alvaro Negredo set up Alfonso Espino in stoppage-time but his header crept over the bar, as Real held on for three invaluable points.
With La Liga now out of action until December 31, the race for the title is heating up. Barcelona lead the way having dropped just five points, with Real Madrid right on their tail. Cadiz, meanwhile, are second from bottom with just 11 points.
TALKING POINT – LOS BLANCOS GET THE JOB DONE… JUST
Real Madrid should have been out of sight long before Perez made things interesting, but a late rally from the visitors almost stunned Ancelotti’s side right at the death.
However, after just one win in their previous four games and having to failed to beat Cadiz on their last two visits to Bernabeu, the victory is all that matters for Los Blancos – even if they made hard work of it.
They sign off for the World Cup with 11 wins from 14 games, remaining unbeaten at the Bernabeu, and, more importantly, within touching distance of Barcelona.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – TONI KROOS (REAL MADRID)
An assist and a sublime goal capped another fantastic performance for the 32-year-old, who was just returning from suspension. How Germany wished they could have persuaded him out of international retirement for Qatar.
Real Madrid: Courtois 5, Vazquez 8, Militao 8, Alaba 6, Mendy 6, Modric 7, Tchouameni 6, Kroos 9*, Valverde 7, Rodrygo 5, Vinicius Junior 7.. subs: Nacho N/A, Camavinga N/A, Ceballos N/A
Cadiz: Ledesma 7, Carcelen 6, Fali 6, Cala 5, Espino 6, Alejo 5, Alcaraz 5, San Emeterio 6, Sobrino 6, Fernandez 5, Lozano 7.. subs: Mari 5, Bongonda 5, Ocampo 5, Perez 5, Negredo N/A.
40’ – GOAL! REAL MADRID 1-0 CADIZ (EDER MILITAO): Five minutes before the break, Los Blancos lead! Kroos’ initial corner delivery is punched clear by Ledesma, but Modric keeps it alive, switching it back to Kroos. The run of Militao is untracked and the defender glances in the former Germany international’s cross.
70’ – GOAL! REAL MADRID 2-0 CADIZ (TONI KROOS): Oh wow, a stunning goal from Kroos doubles Real Madrid’s lead! Modric’s outswinging corner delivery isn’t dealt with, it sits up perfectly for Kroos, who catches a volley ever so sweetly and blasts it past Ledesma at his near post.
80’ – WHAT!? HOW DOES HE MISS?! Vinicius Jnr is released down the left and drives into space. He looks up and rolls it to Modric at the back post. The goal is gaping – it’s an empty net – but the Croatian somehow, inexplicably, fails to hit the target! Absolutely unbelievable.
82’ – GOAL! REAL MADRID 2-1 CADIZ (LUCAS PEREZ): Wait, is it game on?! Cadiz have one back! Courtois fumbles Bongonda’s shot, saves the rebound from Negro but is unable to stop Perez’s effort. There’s life in this contest!
90’+3 – WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY! Negredo sets up Espino with a classy pass with the outside of his boot. But the Cadiz forward gets underneath his header and can’t hit the target!