Real Madrid put in a dubious performance as they edged over Czech side Viktoria Plzen with an unconvincing 2 – 1 victory at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.
From the start, there was a visible hunger from the Los Blancos to respond and put their recent crisis to bed. This was evident in the first five minutes when skipper Sergio Ramos‘s header, from a Toni Kroos corner, rattled the bar.
Madrid sustained an early scare when Roman Hubnik‘s precarious pass drifted past makeshift right-back Lucas Vazquez, and Milan Petrzela fired two efforts on goal. His first strike blocked by Keylor Navas while his second grazed the side netting.
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However, within a matter of seconds, Vazquez managed to find Benzema at the far post, who then found the back of the net through a precise header in the 11th minute of the game. With this goal, the French striker, who has been many a centre of controversy, becomes the outright fourth top scorer in Champions League history with 57 goals overtaking Ruud Van Nistelrooy.
Benzema also became only the third player to score in 14 consecutive Champions League campaigns, following Raúl and Lionel Messi.
Real Madrid get their Champions League campaign back on track 🗺️🏆 pic.twitter.com/tQWsxJA6Pp
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The goal appeared to set the tone, yet Plzen were still persistent going forward. Limbersky, who was the first player to go on the book, shot just wide of the post from close range. Just a couple of minutes later, Kroos found Bale who fired a strike into the bottom corner and the fans went wild, but the party was cut short when the linesman raised the flag up for the goal to be disallowed.
Julen Lopetegui replaced Isco with 20-year-old debutant Federico Valverde after the break, who made quite an introduction for himself at the Bernabeu as he found Gareth Bale, who set up Marcelo for the second goal of the match in the 55th minute. Real seemed to have control of the match but were disallowed another goal, as Benzema tapped in what he thought was his second of the night, the linesman claiming Modric was offside.
In the 78th minute of the game, Hrosovsky slotted past Navas to bring the game back to life. However, Real held on thanks to some sturdy defending from Nacho.
The result sees Madrid retain top spot in Group G with six points in the bag, alongside AS Roma. Be that as it may, the performance failed to relieve any pressure on the under-fire manager Julen Lopetegui.
Real Madrid now head to the most awaited fixture in the world of football on Sunday, 28th October, a customary El Clasico meeting with Barcelona.