Karim Benzema stars, young Brahim Diaz impresses as Madrid survive Huesca scare – ESPN
Real Madrid made it two wins from two since Zinedine Zidane returned as coach — with Karim Benzema the match winner as bottom team Huesca were eventually beaten 3-2 at a half-full Bernabeu on Sunday evening.
Benzema was great without ever really over-exerting himself. On his Madrid starting debut, ex-Manchester City teenager Brahim Diaz outshone many more senior colleagues. Goals from rotated in midfielders Dani Ceballos and Isco will help their confidence, even if both need to be sharper in all-round play. Only four more Bernabeu “occasions” left this season.
Not for first time this year, Madrid’s back four were caught napping as Huesca’s Cucho Fernandez opened the scoring inside three minutes. The defence was also asleep as Xabier Etxeita made it 2-2 at a corner late on. The crowd of 49,269 was the second-smallest of 2018-19 but is probably the biggest the stadium will see before August.
Manager rating out of 10
6 — By resting stars including Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, and picking his own son, Luca, in goal, Zidane appeared to suggest Madrid’s remaining La Liga games are an audition for next season. Not many of the mend and match XI really looked like they were playing for their futures, though. The former Galactico’s late switch to 4-2-4 did lead to late winner in fairness.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating.)
GK Luca Zidane, 7 — Difficult to judge the performance of the younger Zidane, 20, on just his second senior appearance. Neither of Huesca’s goals were realistically saveable, and wastefulness from the visiting forwards meant he was not otherwise really tested.
DF Alvaro Odriozola, 7 — Kept worrying Huesca’s defence with typically battering runs forward — without the opponents being able to take advantage of the space left behind.
DF Nacho, 5 — Continuing the paternity theme, Nacho’s partner gave birth earlier this weekend — and the defender’s mind appeared elsewhere, as he was easily shaken off the ball in the build-up to Huesca’s early opener.
DF Sergio Ramos, 7 — Ramos, who turned 33 yesterday, seems to have his focus back since Zidane returned. At 1-0 down, he was twice bailing out teammates inside 30 seconds and giving a bollocking to Marcelo, who had been caught on the ball at the edge of his own box.
DF Marcelo, 6 — Lost the ball easily to allow Huesca to break and score and was regularly caught in possession in dangerous areas afterward. Was breaking forward into the box in added time to make the space from which Benzema curled in the winner.
MF Dani Ceballos, 6 — Showed bravery and athleticism to provide the finishing touch for Madrid’s second goal but didn’t do enough to knit play together in his primary job in the XI. Not developing his game as previous No. 10s Modric and Kroos did to fit with what Madrid need in a central midfielder.
MF Marcos Llorente, 6 — Back from injury and in Casemiro’s usual holding role. He was not forceful enough in stopping Huesca’s pretty regular breaks through the centre of the park.
MF Isco, 6 — Mixed some very careless passing with the ability to be in right place at right time to find the net from close range again. Two goals in Zidane’s first two games back, but did not spare the Andalusian from Bernabeu whistles and groans when he kept losing the ball.
FW Brahim Diaz, 8 —The 19-year-old on full Madrid debut looked very keen to make a good impression. Full of running and invention, did really well to link with Benzema before assisting on Isco’s equaliser. Picked up an ankle knock early in second half.
FW Karim Benzema, 8 — One of the few Madrid players guaranteed to still be at the Bernabeu next season, Benzema was the game’s most effective player despite playing within himself for much of the 90. Showed excellent strength and awareness while playing a pivotal role in Isco’s equaliser, intelligence with the headed assist for Ceballos and world-class finishing with a curling effort from 15 yards to win the game late on.
FW Gareth Bale, 5 — Barely involved during a first half in which he had the same number of touches  as goalkeeper Zidane. Set up Ceballos’ goal with an outside-of-the-boot cross to Benzema, but then missed embarrassingly from 4 yards, leading to more whistles from home fans.
FW Lucas Vazquez, 6 — Back from injury and brought on in place of Brahim, he put in his usual hardworking shift on the wing.
MF Federico Valverde, 6 — The young Uruguayan replaced Isco in a bid to add more shape to Madrid’s play, just as the game was becoming very stretched.
FW Mariano Diaz, N/R — Looked like someone who had barely played at all this season, although he did test Huesca keeper Roberto Santamaria with the last kick of the game.