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Deportivo La Coruña
22 February 2014
• Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid
Referee: Eduardo Prieto Iglesias
• Attendance: 73254
G. Bale 72'
That's all we have time for from today's early La Liga kick-off, as Real Madrid run out with a convincing scoreline of 3-0 against mid-table side Elche. I've been Simon Harrison, and I hope to see you again next time, be sure to keep an eye on the Spanish title race as today progresses!
Far from a convincing victory, with Elche enjoying a resurgence period at the start of the second half, but Real Madrid were solid and organised, limiting the visitors to only a few chances. In attack, the hosts weren't at full speed, but a 30-yard Bale thunderbolt puts a gloss on the result.
FULL TIME! The referee calls time on an efficient and clinical performance from Real Madrid, who run out as 3-0 winners over Elche. Goals from Illarramendi, Bale and Isco wrap up the three points for Ancelotti's side, with Los Blancos putting the pressure on Atletico and Barcelona to perform later today.
90' + 2'
Varane rises highest in the penalty area, to divert a corner delivery away from the head of Lomban, instigating a break for Real Madrid. Morata burns away from the recovering Elche defenders, going one-on-one with Manu Herrera, before clipping his effort wide of the target. He's inconsolable.
As the game comes to a close, Morata and Isco have been heavily involved since their introduction, proving to Ancelotti that they can offer something to the side, despite not being first-choice. Escriba can take some heart from his side's second half performance, with Los Blancos merely being clinical in front of goal.
Aaron tries an outrageous effort from the halfway line, forcing Diego Lopez to backpedal onto his line and claim the ball high in the air. Real Madrid break up the other end, with the move resulting in Bale shaving the foot of the post - the linesman's flag was held aloft for offside, however.
Good covering from Lomban! Bale looks to drive into the penalty area while in full flight, but the Elche central defender steps in to direct the ball back to his goalkeeper, who is able to clear his lines.
MORATA! The substitute is fed the ball on the corner of the six yard box by Arbeloa, before the Spaniard tries to clip the ball over Manu Herrera on the turn. The Elche goalkeeper stands tall and claims, Morata may have thought that the opposition shot-stopper had come further out from goal than he did in reality.
Real Madrid are happy to hold onto the ball, with Diego Lopez standing motionless while in possession, waiting to be closed down. Ancelotti's side have certainly done their job here today, even if they haven't been a free-flowing and convincing attacking force.
MORATA! The young striker meets Di Maria's cross with a firm header, arrowing the ball wide of the far post, with Manu Herrera beaten. The Spain U21 forward has a point to prove in the remaining ten minutes, with Benzema having a bright first half this afternoon.
Assist Karim Benzema
GOOOOOAL! ISCO MAKES IT THREE FOR REAL MADRID! It's a goal from a very tight angle, with the former Malaga midfielder dancing past Lomban before tucking the ball tightly in between the near post and Manu Herrera.
Ten minutes remaining, and this game is more of a formality than anything else, with both sides seemingly accepting that Real Madrid will be leaving with three points. Escriba's side break down the left hand side, with Javi Marquez bursting into space, before Pepe heads clear.
BENZEMA! Di Maria steers an angled cross towards the back post, with Benzema sliding in to turn the ball towards goal. He gets his connection all wrong, but is glad to see the linesman's flag raised on the touchline, he was some way offside.
Elche are looking somewhat disheartened after conceding to Bale's screamer, and it seems unlikely that the home side can be caught now. The home crowd have certainly been appeased by the fantastic goal they've just witnessed, but there is definitely scope for marked improvement for Ancelotti's men.
ISCO! Great defending from Botia! Benzema is lurking behind the defender, eight yards out from goal, but Botia is alert to the danger, nodding a brilliant cross behind for a goal-kick! Isco is fed the ball after the initial corner delivery is cleared, before his cross slides in between Carvajal's legs! What a miss!
Manu Del Moral
The changes now materialise for Elche, who now probably feel as though it's too late to grab any points from today's fixture. After being poor for the majority of the game, wasting possession regularly, Bale's thunderbolt was the perfect way to silence his critics.
Assist Xabi Alonso
Goal Gareth Bale
GOOOOOOOOAL! WHAT A STRIKE FROM GARETH BALE! He thunders a long-range strike off the underside of the crossbar from 30 yards, leaving Manu Herrera with no chance! That was special, Los Blancos lead 2-0!
CORO! The lone striker uses his pace to frighten Pepe, but the Portuguese defender keeps stride with him. The Elche striker chooses to go it alone, firing a scuffed effort towards the bottom left corner, but Diego Lopez claims easily.
Yellow Card Javi Márquez
As we head into the final 20 minutes, both managers may just begin to look to their benches. Both sides have been relatively solid, but have lacked that bit of creativity and guile to find the game's second goal. Javi Marquez trips Di Maria with cynical intentions, and gets a yellow card.
A few scrappy challenges are creeping into this game, as Di Maria and Jese are both clipped by late tackles within seconds of one another. Illarramendi swings a cross in towards the back post, allowing for Bale to run onto the delivery and attack it, but the ball heads wide of the far upright.
Alonso tries his luck from the dead ball situation, but cannons his strike into the wall, before the loose ball is hacked away desperately for a Real Madrid corner. It's half-cleared, before Di Maria drives into the area, and several of the hosts' players claim for handball, as the ball looked to flick up towards the midriff of Cisma.
Yellow Card Botía
Botia makes a terrible challenge on Jese, receiving a yellow card after being played into trouble by an awful pass by Manu Herrera. It's mistimed, clattering the youngster, and Real Madrid's players want a red card for the Elche defender. The hosts have a free-kick opportunity from 25 yards out regardless.
Bale has certainly been uninspiring in this game, with the Welshman either giving away possession or thrashing an ambitious effort wide of the target whenever he gets hold of the ball. Ancelotti could certainly ring the changes soon, as Los Blancos haven't look very threatening after the half time break.
It's testament to Elche's second half performance that Varane is widely applauded for hoofing a clearance way upfield. Bale then drives down the right hand side, cutting onto his stronger left foot, but curls his effort extremely high and wide of the target.
Real Madrid can't quite kick on in this second half, and aren't quite finding their next gear. During their win against Getafe, Los Blancos won by a convincing scoreline, despite not finding anywhere near their best performance, and today could be another instance of Ancelotti's side merely doing enough to grind out the result.
Elche continue to enjoy a good percentage of the second half possession, but they're unable to break through the dense white lines of Los Blancos. Ancelotti has this team looking very solid, forcing Elche to hit long passes to isolated players, always forcing the mid-table side back towards their own goal.
JAVI MARQUEZ! Well, what a terrible effort by the midfielder! The set piece is cut back square to the edge of the penalty area, with Javi Marquez awaiting with his favoured left foot. He strikes it first time, but balloons the ball some way over the bar, he won't want to see a replay of that!
Carles Gil whips in a threatening cross, getting the better of Varane, firing a delivery arrowing towards the back post. Carvajal does well to meet the ball before anybody in a blue and red shirt, turning it behind for a corner while facing his own goal.
Yellow Card Pepe
Tempers are rising, with Pepe at the heart of the trouble, as is predictable. The hosts' captain is booked for a lunging challenge on Javi Marquez, despite the Elche players calling for a different colour. It was mistimed, but certainly not worthy of a dismissal.
Elche have started the second half well, keeping hold of the ball, but not managing to make too many inroads. Real Madrid's defence has been comfortable and untroubled for long periods, and the away side don't seen to have any inspiration, being forced all the way back to Manu Herrera by intelligent pressing.
JESE! The 20-year-old gets goalside of Cisma, following a great through ball in behind the veteran full-back, but the cross from the Real Madrid winger was placed behind Benzema. It flashed across the penalty area, but he really has to be doing better than that.
We're back in action for the second half, with Real Madrid looking to seal a victory that will send them into first place in La Liga. Illarramendi's first half strike has given Ancelotti's men a slight advantage, but there's plenty more work to do for the hosts to wrap this game up.
Be sure to join us again in ten minutes time for all of the second half action, as Real Madrid look to stretch their unbeaten run to their longest since 1996/1997. In that very season, Real Madrid won the league, so Los Blancos can certainly feel as though they're very much in this title race.
Elche have only managed to register one shot at Diego Lopez's goal, with Carles Gil's tame effort failing to trouble the former Sevilla shot-stopper, but aren't out of this game yet. They've been pegged back in their own half for long periods, but the pace of their forward three could still prove useful on the break.
HALF TIME! Real Madrid head into the dressing room with a slender one goal advantage, courtesy of a deflected Illarramendi strike. The home side have been the better of the two, but aren't quite clicking into gear in attack, with only Benzema having a notable impact. If things stay as they are, Los Blancos will temporarily top La Liga.
Only a few minutes until the break, and Elche will be keen to get into the dressing room and go back to the drawing board. They've stood up to the test fairly well, being undone by a deflection, and Manu Herrera has been more than a match for the majority of what Los Blancos have had to throw at him.
BENZEMA! The Frenchman fires a low drive towards goal from 20 yards out, but Manu Herrera is equal to it, palming it clear of the danger zone. The loose ball is lumped back into the box by Di Maria, but Benzema's attempted header fails to turn the Argentine's cross goalward.
BALE! The Wales international is fed the ball in a crowded penalty area, and is robbed of the ball as he looks to swivel and fire an effort towards goal. He's not had the rub of the green thus far, with Albacar's experience working in his favour.
Yellow Card Rivera
Carvajal is dragged to the ground by Rivera, who earns himself a yellow card for a rather cynical foul. The former Bayer Leverkusen defender looked to possibly kick out of the Elche man has he tried to get back to his feet, but it could easily have been accidental.
Di Maria releases Jese with a clever backheel, before the young winger is penalised for a shove on Cisma. His pace has caused a few problems for Elche, but the visitors are often so deep that the home side can't exploit the lack of pace that Cisma and Albacar have been blessed with.
The visitors continue to struggle to get forward, with Carles Gil's early strike being the only time that Diego Lopez has been forced into a save. There appears to be no reason to believe that Real Madrid will be moving to the top of La Liga after this game, they've looked comfortable.
The goal took a huge deflection off Del Moral, with Illarramendi's effort cannoning off his shin, diverting the ball into the bottom corner. The visitors' resistance has been broken, and now they have to think about pressing forward as well as keeping things tight at the other end.
Goal Asier Illarramendi
GOOOOOOOOAL! ILLARRAMENDI FIRES HOME WITH THE AID OF A DEFLECTION! The hosts lead 1-0, converting from a corner delivery that shouldn't have been given! Benzema won the set piece, but he was in an offside position in the build up. Unlucky for Elche, but Los Blancos have the advantage!
Just over ten minutes until the half time break, and Real Madrid need a goal to settle themselves down here. Benzema has gone quiet after a bright start, with Di Maria and Jese being the only other real driving forces. There is a lack of dynamism, and the tempo has slowed down somewhat too.
JESE! The youngster fires wide from the edge of the box, opening up his body to try and place the ball into the bottom right corner. He has his head in his heads, probably because he was under so little pressure. It would have been a tough finish, but he had time to take a touch if he needed to.
As we approach the half hour mark, it would be fair to say that Los Blancos are missing Luka Modric more than Cristiano Ronaldo! Alonso has been a little bit scrappy in midfield, with no real link between midfield and attack. Illarramendi has looked tidy, but neither he nor Alonso will press on too readily.
A very ambitious effort from Xabi Alonso! The defensive midfielder tries to curl the ball towards the top corner from 35 yards out, after spotting Manu Herrera slightly out of position. The execution is all wrong though, and the Elche keeper just has to watch the ball bounce wide of the target.
Real Madrid continue to move the ball well in the midfield third, but too many attacks are breaking down for the home side. Gareth Bale looks a little bit rusty, giving the ball away on several occasions, and the hosts certainly need to click into gear. The Wales international is nearly found by a route one pass by Varane, but Manu Herrera is able to intercept.
DI MARIA! The Argentine midfielder tries his luck from 25 yards out, but his effort dips over the crossbar with Manu Herrera having his angles covered. But for Benzema's headed chance, the Elche goalkeeper hasn't been tested on too many occasions.
Varane slips over in the hosts' penalty area, allowing for Carles Gil to pick up the loose ball. From the byeline, he looks to deliver a killer ball, but it ends up being an easy claim for Diego Lopez. The visitors aren't managing to carve out many opportunities.
Diego Lopez has to be quick off his line to prevent Carles Gil from getting in behind Varane and Pepe. Elche have named three offensively minded players in their starting line-up, with all three possessing pace, meaning that Los Blancos have to be careful not to commit too many players forward despite their dominance.
Xabi Alonso goes down holding his ankle, following a strong challenge from Javi Marquez, but the referee waves play on. The Elche man did certainly catch the Basque-born midfielder, and Alonso isn't happy with the attempted tackle whatsoever, but he'll be fine to continue.
The hosts continue to press forward, with Benzema very involved in the early stages. Elche are struggling to break out of their own half too often, with the potential league leaders in the driving seat. The final ball hasn't been forthcoming quite yet, but there appears to be some goals in this Real Madrid front line, even without Cristiano.
Poor delivery from Benzema, earning him some groans from the Bernabeu crowd. He did excellently to break down the left side, beating Cisma for pace, but his eventual cross was placed too close to Manu Herrera. Bale was at the back post waiting, but the ball never came.
BENZEMA! The France international is inches away from finding the back of the net, after great work down the left hand side from the marauding Arbeloa. The full-back picks out a smart near post cross, but Manu Herrera is able to steal the ball from the head of Benzema, as he looked to steer the delivery home.
Real Madrid continue to remain on top, with Escriba's outfit rather powerless to resist, due to the high tempo of Los Blancos' play.The home side are moving the ball sharply, with the three-pronged attack of Bale, Benzema and Jese offering plenty of pace against Elche's aging full-backs.
BALE! Great challenge from Botia! The former Tottenham winger is released brilliantly by a cheeky Benzema backheel, before the Welshman drives into the box, towards the near post. Botia covers across well, sliding in to dispossess his opponent.
Los Blancos have started this game excellently, keeping the tempo high and dominating possession. Elche are looking to absorb the early blows, but haven't been able to drive forward too often, due a lack of support for Coro. The visiting forward has his side's first effort of the game, but his tame effort is patting down comfortably by Diego Lopez.
Jese is fed through on goal by an ambitious long ball, with his pace allowing for him to leave Cisma for dead and bear down on Manu Herrera. The Elche goalkeeper is able to collect ahead of the youngster, however, who has managed to find the net in his last three consecutive matches.
The hosts are already getting on top, with Escriba's men sitting in their shape and looking to frustrate. Di Maria makes a driving run down the right flank, but his cross is beaten away by Manu Herrera, with Benzema lurking eight yards out.
BENZEMA! The Frenchman drives at goal, firing towards the near post from 20 yards out, but Manu Herrera is able to palm it behind for a corner. Should Real Madrid win here this afternoon, they'll equal an unbeaten record that they haven't been able to match since the 1996/1997 season.
We're underway in the first half, with today's referee Eduardo Prieto getting things underway. Real Madrid are looking to protect their 25 game unbeaten streak this afternoon, and the home fans will be expecting dominance from the off! Fran Escriba, contrastingly may be hoping for damage limitation, following the heavy defeats his side have suffered to the likes of Barcelona. Before kick-off, the Real Madrid basketball team parade their sporting equivalent of the Copa del Rey, much to the delight of the home support.
We're just over five minutes from kick-off, so be sure to stick around for all of the live action from the Bernabeu. This game has big implications on the top of the Spanish top flight, and you can follow every step of it here.
Boasting an 100% win record at home since their loss to Atletico in September, Real Madrid are clear favourites this afternoon, with Elche only managing to pick up points from the teams around them. Due to the absences of Modric and Cristiano, Los Blancos won't be firing on all cylinders, but should have more than enough quality to dispatch of their opposition regardless.
Elche substitutes: Aaron Niguez, Mantecon, Boakye, Fidel, Sergio Pelegrin, Cristian Herrera, Jose Alvarez.
Elche starting line-up: Manu Herrera; Cisma, Botia, Lomban, Albacar; Ruben Perez, Javi Marquez; Del Moral, Rivera, Carles Gil; Coro.
Real Madrid substitutes: Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Coentrao, Casemiro, Nacho, Alvaro Morata, Isco.
Real Madrid starting line-up: Diego Lopez; Carvajal, Varane, Pepe, Arbeloa; Di María, Alonso, Illarramendi; Jese, Benzema, Bale.
TEAM NEWS: Damian Suarez and Carlos Sanchez are suspended for the visitors, with injuries keeping out Tono, Sapunaru and Alvaro Gimenez. Coro will be leading the line alone, ahead of a midfield five, as the underdogs will presumably look to frustrate at the Bernabeu this afternoon - they certainly need an efficient performance to leave this arena with any points.
TEAM NEWS: No Cristiano Ronaldo or Luka Modric for the hosts, as both players sit out through suspension, with the former's appeal being rejected earlier this afternoon. Sami Khedira remains the only long-term injury casualty, and there's a start for Alvaro Arbeloa. Sergio Ramos and Fabio Coentrao take up a spot on the hosts' bench.
I'm Simon Harrison, and I will be leading you through all of the action, as Real Madrid set their sights on top spot in La Liga. Elche have only lost one of their last five games, due to a spot of resurgence in recent months, but haven't managed a win on the road since late October. There's no Cristiano Ronaldo for the home side, due to suspension, but Ancelotti has a wealth of options available to him.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of this afternoon's early La Liga kick-off, as mid-table Elche travel to the Bernabeu to face Carlo Ancelotti's Real Madrid. With a win here today, Los Blancos will put the pressure on title rivals Barcelona and Atletico to perform this weekend, and will at least put the home side in the driving seat temporarily.
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