Ramos papers over the cracks, but Madrid need more from Ronaldo

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Sergio Ramos Real Madrid Malaga LaLiga 21012017
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The club captain scored both goals in a 2-1 win over Malaga as Los Blancos returned to winning ways, but the Portuguese was disappointing once again


So often he is the man for a crisis. Sergio Ramos' own goal against Sevilla last weekend saw Real Madrid lose control and ultimately their unbeaten record as well. But on Saturday he was back scoring at the right end - and everyone at the club will be relieved after his latest contribution.

Ramos at the double as Madrid edge past Malaga

Ramos started the season with a late leveller against Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup to force extra time in Trondheim and Madrid ultimately claimed the trophy. And he was there again in the last minute to head home a crucial equaliser in the Clasico clash at Camp Nou in December, before a last-gasp goal gave Real victory at home to Deportivo in their final Liga game of 2016 as well.

It has become a knack and the 30-year-old assumed the role of leader again on Saturday, heading home from a corner to make it 1-0 and then poking in another from a free-kick. He was fortunate to see the second stand as he was in an offside position, but he was there. He is always there.

And it was lucky that he was because Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema endured frustrating evenings, and both were whistled by fans at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Real Madrid Malaga result

The Portuguese failed to connect with an attempted overhead kick, was unable to beat Carlos Kameni after a terrible mistake by the Malaga goalkeeper in the second half and was somewhat unfortunate as he blasted a late effort against the upright. Again, he seemed to slow down play at times and also misplaced a number of passes.

Ramos sets goals record in Malaga win

Defended prior to the match by coach Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo was well below his best for the third game in a row and found himself jeered by the Madrid faithful when he lost possession in the second half.

Benzema also departed to a chorus of whistles after he had fired over the crossbar in the first half and later failed to convert a super cross from Lucas Vazquez. With these two off form, Real really are starting to miss the injured Gareth Bale.

Sergio Ramos Camacho Real Madrid Malaga LaLiga 21012017

Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid Malaga LaLiga 21012017

Zidane defends Ronaldo over dip in form

James Rodriguez is also out and with Isco slow in possession after replacing Marcelo, who went off injured to cause another potential problem for Zidane, there was little in the way of attacking flair on show this time.

Luka Modric did not have his best game either and Zidane will be particularly pleased to have got this match out of the way after back-to-back defeats against Sevilla and Celta Vigo over the past week - especially as Malaga closed the gap to 2-1 through Juanpi and threatened to draw level straight afterwards.

It was far from convincing in the end and it took an offside goal for Madrid to win the three points that keep them top of the table. And, as he looks back on the match later on, Zidane will be grateful for the intervention of Ramos, but concerned too at Cristiano's continued struggles since winning the Ballon d'Or and FIFA's The Best prize over the past month.

On Thursday, Madrid travel to Celta in the Copa del Rey and Los Blancos will look to overturn a 2-1 deficit from the first leg. To do so, however, the whole team - and Ronaldo in particular - will need to do much, much better than this.