Real Madrid continued their 100 percent start to the season with a comeback victory at home on Sunday, September 11, 2022.
Real Madrid came from behind to beat Mallorca 4-1 at the Bernabeu in La Liga on Sunday and extended their perfect start to the season.
A single effort from Federico Valverde on the stroke of half-time leveled the scores after Vedat Muqiri had startled the home fans by putting the visitors ahead.
Vinicius Jr put the hosts ahead before Rodrygo and Antonio Rudiger capped the carnage.
Real returned to the top of the table, two points clear of second-placed Barcelona.
A much-changed Real initially struggled to create a foothold and severely missed injured talisman Karim Benzema in attack throughout a below-par first half.
Muqiri, who was denied by Thibaut Courtois inside the opening 40 seconds, headed in unguarded at the back post after 35 minutes and it appeared the champions would go down at the break for the first time this year.
That changed, though, in extra time of the first half when Valverde sprinted the length of the pitch before firing home a left-footed shot from the edge of the box.
Valverde might not get as much attention and acclaim as Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, or more lately new arrival Aurelien Tchouameni, but Valverde is an increasingly vital and influential player of this Real Madrid club.
Valverde has always delivered a no-nonsense, ego-free approach and unrelenting work rate, but now he’s adding solid end product to his game too. Just look at his contributions over the last couple of weeks.
Here, with Madrid 1-0 down and finding it tough to break through Mallorca’s five-man backline and deep defensive block. Valverde took matters into his own hands, cutting inside and smashing a shot past goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic to level before half-time.
After the break, the hosts monopolised the ball but were fortunate when Antonio Sanchez blasted wide from six yards out with the goal gaping on a rare venture forward from the Balearic Islanders.
Rodrygo’s mazy run fed Vinicius 18 minutes from time and the Brazilian forward netted for a fifth consecutive game to put Carlo Ancelotti’s side in front, before Rodrygo, who capped off a delightful run with a perfect finish, and the first goal in Madrid colours for Rudiger added late gloss to the scoreline.
Another chance was squandered by Eden Hazard.
The midweek injury to Karim Benzema had provided the Belgian, who had been selected by Ancelotti as this season’s backup No. 9, with yet another opportunity to demonstrate that this might finally, truly be his year.
In his 60 minutes on the field against Celtic, his performance off the bench had been positive, scoring and providing an assist.
He lasted about the same amount of time here before being dismissed, contributing somewhat and never really seeming like he would add to his four goals in three years in LaLiga.
Hazard had moments of excellence. Although he frequently doesn’t seem to be in sync with players more accustomed to Benzema’s approach, his touch and off-the-ball movement remain good.
Although he was largely disappointed by Mallorca’s dense defense, he continued to sink lower and deeper to participate in the game.
Ancelotti may believe that Hazard can only play in this position given his sluggishness and Vinicius’ electrifying play on the left, but it’s difficult to understand why Rodrygo, who scored in a standout performance here, or even Mariano wouldn’t be a better Plan B at center-forward.