Almeria 1-2 Real Madrid: Alaba's stunning first touch seals opening day win for champions

·3-min read

Substitute David Alaba scored a stunning free-kick with his first touch as Real Madrid started their LaLiga title defence with a 2-1 turnaround win over Almeria on Sunday.

Carlo Ancelotti's side started poorly at the Power Horse Stadium in Andalusia, and fell behind inside the opening 10 minutes courtesy of a clinical finish from former Manchester United youth player Largie Ramazani.

Madrid struggled to find a way past an inspired Fernando Martinez in the Almeria goal, before Lucas Vazquez, who had an effort ruled out in the first half for offside, eventually pulled Madrid level shortly after the hour mark.

Alaba replaced Ferland Mendy in the 74th minute and with his first touch curled a sumptuous free-kick past Fernando from 25 yards to seal all three points.

Madrid's defence was caught out in just the sixth minute when Ramazani latched onto Inigo Eguaras' superb ball over the top and fired past Thibaut Courtois from just inside the penalty area.

At five minutes and 50 seconds, that was the quickest goal Madrid have conceded on the opening day of a league season since Sergio Aguero scored against them for Atletico Madrid in August 2007.

Los Blancos had a whopping 17 shots before the interval, yet a combination of smart goalkeeping from Fernando and uncharacteristically wasteful finishing from Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior prevented them from finding a leveller.

Fernando continued to frustrate Madrid after the break, denying Benzema with a fine save, but he was eventually beaten in the 61st minute when Vazquez slammed home after the Almeria goalkeeper had kept out Vinicius' effort.

Alaba then ensured Madrid went back to the capital with maximum points, whipping past a helpless Fernando immediately after entering the action.

What does it mean? Madrid bounce back to deny plucky hosts

Almeria had won just one of their 12 games against Madrid in LaLiga prior to Sunday's clash, but they looked like they might earn a famous victory thanks to Ramazani's early strike and some inspired goalkeeping from Fernando.

Vasquez and Alaba had other ideas, though, as Los Blancos stretched their unbeaten run on the opening day of LaLiga to 14 games.

Alaba's instant impact

Alaba did not need to settle into the action before dispatching a glorious free-kick past Fernando with his first touch. That goal meant he is one of only two players, alongside Real Betis' Nabil Fekir, to have scored two goals from free-kicks in LaLiga since the start of last season.

Fantastic Fernando

Fernando can consider himself exceptionally unlucky to have finished on the losing side. The 32-year-old made an incredible 13 saves to frustrate the visitors, but there was little he could do about Madrid's two decisive strikes.

Key Opta facts

- Madrid are unbeaten in their last 10 LaLiga away games against Andalusian teams (W9 D1), their best such run in the competition since May 2012 (GP10 W8 D2).
- Madrid had 12 corners in the first half against Almeria, their highest tally in the first 45 minutes of a LaLiga game since, at least, the 2004-05 season. They also had 17 shots in that period, their highest tally since January 2018 against Villarreal (18).
- Benzema has been involved in 10 goals in eight games against Almeria in LaLiga (four goals and six assists), scoring or assisting in each of his last four games at Estadio de los Juegos Mediterraneos (one goal and four assists).
- Fernando's 13 saves was the joint-most against Los Blancos in a single LaLiga game since at least 2005-06 (Willy Caballero also with 13 for Malaga in October 2013).
- Lucas Vazquez has scored three goals in his last 10 games for Real Madrid in all competitions (all three in LaLiga), as many as in his previous 75 games for them in any competition.

What's next?

Madrid are away at Celta Vigo on Saturday, while Almeria visit Elche two days later.