Real Madrid almost mathematically confirmed their La Liga title with a thrilling 3-1 win over Osasuna on Wednesday night.
First-half goals from David Alaba and Marco Asensio, followed by Lucas Vazquez’s last-minute strike, were enough to ensure that a second-half brace of missed penalties by Karim Benzema didn’t cost Los Blancos a thrilling victory that puts Carlo Ancelotti’s side 17 points clear at the top of La Liga for at least a day.
The game got off to a frantic start, with both teams threatening in their respective final thirds before scoring inside the first 14 minutes. When the deadlock was broken in the 12th minute, it was the visiting side’s quality that initially appeared.
The goal originated from a delightfully measured cross from Dani Ceballos, before Benzema’s cutback presented the onrushing Alaba with a chance he simply couldn’t miss from a few yards out, playing an unintentional one-two with the hosts’ goalkeeper before bundling the ball into the back of the net.
Catching their opponents napping, however, Osasuna found themselves level a couple of minutes later when Ante Budimir showed good reflexes to stick out a toe at the back post, tapping a fizzed delivery from the right-hand side into a helpless Thibaut Courtois‘ goal.
The home side continued to threaten on the break while Real Madrid controlled possession, and thought they’d earned a second goal just after the half-hour mark. After chesting the ball down brilliantly and scuffing a volleyed effort into the bottom corner, however, Budimir’s celebrations were swiftly cut short by the linesman’s flag.
Having the lion’s share of the ball finally paid dividend just before the referee’s whistle for the break. Asensio was on hand to tap the ball in from short range, profiting from a rebounded Ceballos effort after Eduardo Camavinga’s sensational lofted ball in behind the Osasuna back line had originally picked the Spaniard out.
The thrills didn’t stop after the break, either.
Minutes after Courtois was forced into a Superman-style stop at one end, Ancelotti’s side were given a penalty at the other. Rodrygo’s twisting and turning forced Ezequiel Avila into a handball as he slid in for a tackle, but Benzema – of all people – failed to give Real a two-goal cushion as he saw Sergio Herrera parry his spot kick out for a corner.
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Remarkably, though, the Frenchman was given another opportunity from 12 yards just seven minutes later, after Rodrygo’s blistering pace earned the visitors another penalty just before the clock struck the hour-mark. The story, however, was the same, as both Benzema and the goalkeeper went the same way again.
In what was a comparatively subdued end to proceedings, there was one more moment of note for the visitors. Los Blancos sealed the win in the sixth minute of stoppage time as Vinicius Junior, who had missed a gilt-edged chance minutes before, latched onto Benzema’s brilliant pass and squared for a grateful Vazquez, who finished with aplomb.
Ancelotti’s men now find themselves in a truly unassailable domestic position as they turn their attention onto the first leg of their Champions League semi-final bout with Manchester City next week.
Here’s how Los Blancos rated on Wednesday night.