La Liga English

Real Madrid narrowly beats Valladolid 1-0

Real Madrid were clearly missing the creativity of Eden Hazard, who had recovered from an ankle injury but now is nursing a right leg muscle injury, as only a fortuitous goal from substitute Vinicius Junior earned them a 1-0 victory over Real Valladolid.

Vinícius scored after coming off the bench as Real Madrid lodged its second win in a row in the Spanish league, having netted the winner midway through the second half after Madrid’s forwards struggled again in attack. The young Brazilian broke the deadlock from close range after a defensive mistake by Valladolid defenders inside the area.

Vinicius had been on the field for less than 10 minutes after replacing striker Luka Jovic, who again missed another chance to impress as a starter, squandering two of the best scoring opportunities of the game, first with a close-range shot in the first half and then with a header after halftime.

Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane started the match with two strikers, but Karim Benzema also was far from his best up front.

“It was difficult in the first half, but we changed the game after we switched the scheme (to a 4-3-3) and I entered the match with (Marco) Asensio,” Vinícius Júnior said.

Vinícius Júnior became the first forward to score for Madrid this season after it opened its title-defense campaign with a 0-0 draw at Real Sociedad and a 3-2 win against Real Betis thanks to a late penalty kick converted by defender Sergio Ramos.

The victory left Madrid at the top of the standings with seven points, along with Getafe, Valencia and Villarreal. Madrid and Getafe have a game in hand.

Valladolid, winless after four matches, had a few good chances on counterattacks and forced Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to make a couple of good saves.