Madrid win on league return
Playing a home game but not at their famed Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, Real Madrid resumed their Spanish league campaign with a 3-1 win over Eibar yesterday to keep pace with leader Barcelona.
Toni Kroos, Sergio Ramos and Marcelo scored a goal each – with Marcelo taking a knee and raising one of his hands in the air – as Madrid won the game at the club’s training centre while major renovation work takes place at the 80,000-capacity Bernabéu, about 10 kilometers (6 miles) away.
Eden Hazard, who had been expected to miss the rest of the season because of a foot injury sustained before the coronavirus pandemic, thrived on his return and set up two of the goals in the game. There were no fans at the 6,000-capacity Alfredo Di Stéfano Stadium, which is used mostly by Madrid’s ‘B’ team.
Madrid players walked a few hundred metres (yards) from the team’s housing facilities to the stadium for the match that marked the club’s return after a pause of more than three months because of the pandemic.
A large banner in the stands spanned from one goal line to the other with the image of a black ribbon and the message ‘in our hearts’, honouring the nearly 28,000 who have died with COVID-19 in Spain. The league officially resumed on Thursday with third-place Sevilla defeating city rival Real Betis 2-0.
The victory kept Madrid two points behind Barcelona, who returned on Saturday with a 4-0 rout at Mallorca. Eibar and Mallorca are both fighting relegation.
Madrid dominated from the start and Kroos opened the scoring with a shot into the top corner in the fourth minute. Ramos added to the lead from close range in the 30th after a pass by Hazard, who started the build-up for Marcelo’s strike from inside the area in the 37th.
Eibar, sitting two points outside the relegation zone, got their only goal from Pedro Bigas in the 60th.
Ramos had scored the first goal at the Alfredo Di Stéfano when it was inaugurated with an exhibition match in 2006. Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane also was in that game that opened the facility named after the former Argentina and Madrid great.
Madrid is expected to play all of their remaining home matches at the Alfredo Di Stéfano because the Bernabéu will continue to undergo renovation work during the summer. The club is likely to remain at the Alfredo Di Stéfano for the rest of the season even if fans are allowed back before then, which the league has said is a possibility.