A late header from Aurelien Tchouameni handed Real Madrid a crucial 2-1 win over Las Palmas on Saturday to put them two points clear at the summit of LaLiga EASPORTS.
In a fairly even first half, the resurgent Las Palmas, who have defied their pre-season relegation tags to rise to the top half of the standings, proved to be a worthy match for their opponents as Carlo Ancelotti’s side struggled to exert their dominance without the suspended Jude Bellingham.
Las Palmas felt they should have had a penalty when Dani Ceballos appeared to bundle over Sergi Cardona inside the penalty area, but the referee and VAR decided it was not a clear and obvious error to overturn the on-field decision.
Vinicius Junior then squandered a series of chances in front of goal in a matter of minutes as Real Madrid struggled to break the deadlock, and it was clear they sorely missed the driving presence of Bellingham in the central areas.
Many would have expected Real Madrid to emerge for the second half with more urgency, but Andriy Lunin was forced into a super stop to deny Munir with a strong hand. The Ukrainian could do little to stop the next chance from finding its way into the net, however, as the hosts took the lead on 53 minutes.
Sandro Ramirez did excellently to start a counter-attack down the right flank and poked a low cross into the box, and there was Javier Munoz to sweep home – via a deflection from Nacho – to beat the helpless Lunin.
Vinicius and Tchouameni turn the game around
But it was Vinicius who finally redeemed himself for his earlier misses with his ninth goal in eight games, firing home on the bounce from a superb Eduardo Camavinga lobbed pass to draw the visitors level.
If a late surge for a winner was expected, it didn’t arrive as Real Madrid – perhaps paying the price for a congested schedule – looked flat and out of ideas. Ancelotti’s decision to put Aurelien Tchouameni on the pitch late on when veteran playmaker Luka Modric was left unused was peculiar, to say the least.
But the Frenchman proved to be the unlikely saviour when he rose high to head home from Toni Kroos’ corner with only six minutes left.
It means Real Madrid will be top at least for another 18 hours before Girona take on Celta Vigo on Sunday and they will be grateful to take three points away after a lackluster display against the Canary Islanders, who will feel they deserved a point.
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