Hazard shines for Madrid without Zidane; En-Nesyri hat trick
Eden Hazard scored and set up Karim Benzema for his first of two goals as Real Madrid eased to a 4-1 victory at Alavs in the Spanish league, ending a winless run in a match that coach Zinedine Zidane missed after he contracted the coronavirus.Hazard grazed a long pass to redirect the ball to Benzema, who doubled the lead for Madrid in the 41st after Casemiro had headed in the 15th-minute opener on Saturday.Belgium forward Hazard scored just his third goal of the season in first-half injury time to build a 3-0 lead at the break.PTI | Aalsmeer | Updated: 24-01-2021 09:20 IST | Created: 24-01-2021 09:20 IST
Eden Hazard scored and set up Karim Benzema for his first of two goals as Real Madrid eased to a 4-1 victory at Alavés in the Spanish league, ending a winless run in a match that coach Zinedine Zidane missed after he contracted the coronavirus.
Belgium forward Hazard scored just his third goal of the season in first-half injury time to build a 3-0 lead at the break. Toni Kroos had recovered possession in midfield and set up Hazard's run behind a disordered defensive line.
Joselu Mato pulled one back for Alavés on the hour-mark.
The promising performance by Hazard comes amid growing impatience shown by Madrid's fans, and some unfavourable comparisons in the Spanish sports media to former star Gareth Bale, who was also injury prone. Hampered by injuries, the 30-year-old Hazard has not lived up to the club-record 100 million euros (USD 113 million) fee plus add-ons two seasons ago.
''I think at Chelsea he was the player he was, and now he has to be a different one here,'' Benzema said about Hazard. ''We need Hazard to be at his best.'' Madrid assistant coach David Bettoni was on the touchline at Mendizorroza Stadium after Madrid made public on Friday that Zidane had tested positive for COVID-19. Bettoni said on Friday that Zidane was ''feeling fine.'' Bettoni said he consulted Zidane by telephone late in the match to make substitutions, but added his boss ''trusts his players and trusts me.'' Bettoni has high expectations of Hazard.
''I think that little by little Eden will recover his top form,'' Bettoni said. ''He is a creative player, a spontaneous player, who needs confidence to take on players one-on-one, but it is also true that he has had many injuries. We have to be patient, even though patience is not plentiful in football.'' The win over struggling Alavés came after Madrid drew 0-0 at Osasuna in the league, lost to Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey semifinals, and was dumped from the Copa del Rey in a 2-1 loss at third-tier Alcoyano, which scored the winner with 10 men.
Alavés, which was celebrating the 100th anniversary of its foundation, was left one point above the relegation zone in a third consecutive loss under new coach Abelardo Fernández.
En-Nesyri has 12 goals in 19 rounds and leads the league scoring charts. The Morocco striker also scored a treble two weeks ago. He has another four goals this season in the Champions League, where Sevilla plays Borussia Dortmund in the round of 16 next month.
En-Nesyri opened the scoring in the 35th after Jesús ''Suso'' Fernández's shot hit the post and fell for him to finish off. His second and third goals were from headers in the 39th and 62nd.
On his second goal, En-Nesyri said that he could only see from one eye after taking a knock in the other one. But that did not stop him from meeting Suso's free kick sent near the penalty spot for the striker to head through the crowded area and into the net.
''I knew the set piece was for me and I had to execute it, so I scored the goal with one eye open,'' En-Nesyri said.
JOAQUÍN'S COMEBACK At age 39, Joaquín Sánchez proved he can still turn games around for Real Betis. He came on in the 78th and set up one goal before scoring a stoppage-time equalizer in a 2-2 draw with Sociedad.
Coach Imanol Alguacil slung his coat into the dugout after seeing his team squander a two-goal lead and an overall dominant performance because of Betis' inspired final push led Joaquín.
But Joaquín curled in a cross for Sergio Canales to head home in the 85th. The veteran forward clinched the draw two minutes into injury time when fellow substitute Cristián Tello sped past his marker and found Joaquín in the area.
Sociedad will have a chance to avenge the loss on Tuesday when it visits Betis in their round-of-16 clash in the Copa del Rey.
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