|Özil scored a great and important victory goal|
The match could not have started worse for Real Madrid. Within seven minutes the scoreboard was against the Whites and they had to make an extra effort to make the comeback in a stadium where Valladolid have only lost once in the eight official matches that they have played there. Valladolid’s goal came in their first jaunt into Casillas’ area. Alvaro Rubio’s corner lead to a series of ricochets in the area before Manucho put the ball into the net from close range.
They needed to make a comeback and the Whites got to work to bring things level on the scoreboard. It only took five minutes to do. Callejon, who along with Nacho were the changes to starting line-up, was very attentive and stole the ball from Balenziaga. He drew in the goalkeeper Dani Hernández and played a square ball to Benzema, who only had to push the ball home. The match was level once again, but it felt like it was going to be short-lived and after the two subsequent Real Madrid chances that fell to Khedira in the 17th minute and Ronaldo, from a free-kick, in the 19th minute they came close to going ahead themselves.
In spite of that, it was Valladolid who again went ahead in a move that was very similar to the first goal of the match. Valladolid’s second corner and Manucho’s second shot that had ended up in the net, this time from a header in the 22nd minute. It was more than the home team deserved for what they had shown in the match so far, who had found refuge in their set pieces, and it made it even more difficult for Real Madrid to get their fourth straight victory against a highly motivated team that had twice gone ahead on the scoreboard and were playing in front of a home crowd that were euphoric with their team’s season so far and understood the significance of what their team were achieving.
Except for an Ebert free-kick, which troubled Casillas, Valladolid did not get back into the visitors’ area during the first half. Real Madrid, however, continued to play well and tried to go in to the dressing room with the match at least all square. The Whites created up to four dangerous scoring chances before Özil scored the second just before the break. The move that produced it was a masterpiece. The German received the ball on the edge of the area, went passed two opponents by combining with Benzema, who laid off back to him with a back heel, before he placed the ball between the legs of Dani Hernández. 2-2 and all to be played for in the remaining 45 minutes.
The evidence that Real Madrid were going to fight for the win until exhaustion was irrefutable and increased further after the break. A brave Mourinho brought on Di Maria and took off Nacho. The Whites dominated and when they didn’t have the ball and they were biting at the heels of Valladolid and didn’t give them a moment to breathe which resulted in the home team not being able to string together more than three passes. Perhaps that is why the scoring chances all came in the home team’s area. Ramos, from a header in the 50th minute, Benzema, from the edge of the box in the 52nd minute, and Ronaldo, also from outside of the area in 55th minute, were the creators.
If anything was on show from Real Madrid it was bravery. Mourinho personified that as much as anyone and removed another defender, specifically Arbeloa, to put on another midfielder: Modric. The match had become end-to-end and Real Madrid kept going for the win. Di María, in the 63rd minute, had a one-on-one with Dani Hernandez, but the goalkeeper came out on top. Ramos did beat him two minutes later, but Pérez Montero incorrectly ruled out the visitors' goal for offside.
The comeback was completed in the 72nd minute in the same manner that both of the home team’s goals had come: from dead balls. It came from a free-kick on the edge of the area that Ronaldo feinted to shoot and Özil hit the ball in such a subtle and precise way, hitting the crossbar that it meant that the outstretched Valladolid goalkeeper could do get now where near. The German had a match worth framing and led his team to their fourth straight win and third in the month of December in which the Whites have won every match that they have played.
Stadium: Jose Zorrilla
Goals: 1-0: Min. 6, Manucho. 1-1: Min. 11, Benzema. 2-1: Min. 21, Manucho. 2-2: Min. 44, Özil. 2-3: Min. 71. Özil.