Madrid win on league re­turn

The Star (Jamaica) - - Front Page -

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

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.

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