|Display of pride and a Cristiano Ronaldo brace|
Real Madrid began 2013 with only one aim in mind: to win and find the style of play and the results that brought them last season’s record breaking league title. They soon showed their intent. It only took two minutes for them to take an early lead. The pressure that caused the visitors to lose the ball speaks volumes of the hunger with which Real Madrid have started the year. Cristiano Ronaldo, wearing the captain's armband, won the ball, and passed to Khedira who played Benzema through to beat Bravo in a one-on-one. 1-0 with the first shot on goal. The match could not have begun better for the home team.
The joy did not last long. On five minutes Carlos Vela was brought down by Adan in the area and the referee Iglesias Villanueva gave a penalty and unfairly sent off the Whites’ goalkeeper. Callejon was sacrificed so that Casillas could be brought onto the field in the 7th minute. The Real Madrid captain failed to stop the spot kick that was masterfully taken by Xabi Prieto and the match was level again, although the Whites would have to play more than 85 minutes with ten men. The goal seemed to have affected Real Madrid for a few moments, but it soon passed.
They got back to showing off the traits that have led to the club being so admired around the world: class, pride, boundless dedication and continued effort until they are exhausted. It was the home team who once again went ahead on the scoreboard. A corner taken by Ozil was partially cleared by the Real Sociedad defence and the ball fell to Carvalho, who volleyed towards goal. Khedira was standing in the line of the shot and clipped it with his heel to score in the 35th minute. A great match from German midfielder, who had got the assist for the first goal and emulated the legendary Di Stefano goal against Atletico for the second. But, as happened with Benzema’s opening goal, Real Sociedad levelled the match again five minutes later. Xabi Prieto, who took advantage of a ricochet in the area to beat Casillas, again took the lead role. It could not have been a more exciting first half: four goals, a sending-off ... and a shot against the post in the last passage of play. Ozil started the counterattack and Benzema was the player who crashed his shot against the woodwork.
Real Madrid were determined to hide the fact that they were a man down in the second half and their dominance was devastating. Real Sociedad seemed surprised and the Whites, with a physically imperious Cristiano Ronaldo, were close to scoring a third on several occasions. A shot from Portuguese in the 54th minute forced Bravo to show his best. The goal came in the 68th minute and the Portuguese was the architect. The assist from Benzema and a perfect finish from the Whites’ top scorer. His exhibition did not end there. Two minutes later he was brought down on the edge of the area. His confidence was so high that when he placed the ball to take the direct free-kick he already knew it was going in. The way that the ball hit the underside of the crossbar before going in made the home team’s fourth goal look even better.
Following Cristiano Ronaldo’s two goals came another moment of happiness. Higuain, who replaced Benzema, made his return to the field to a thunderous ovation from the Bernabeu. The Argentine came close to scoring with his first touch of the ball but his shot came back off of the crossbar. He could have sealed the match with that play, but immediately afterwards the gap was closed. A Chory Castro pass in behind for Xabi Prieto which he once again finished well in the 76th minute: 4-3. Three minutes later, Estrada was sent off. The scales were balanced at ten players per team for the closing stages and the Whites were able to maintain their advantage and offer a valuable win to their fans as a gift on Three Kings Day. The Bernabeu gave an ovation for the display of class and pride from their team.
Stadium: Santiago Bernabeu
Goals: 1-0, min. 2 , Benzema. 1-1, min. 8, Xabi Prieto (pen). 2-1, min. 35 Khedira. 2-2, min. 39, Xabi Prieto. 3-2, min. 68, Cristiano Ronaldo. 4-2, min. 70, Cristiano Ronaldo. 4-3, min. 76, Xabi Prieto.