EDEN HAZARD and Real Madrid got a weight off their mind as he bagged his first goal since October in a vital victory – despite manager Zinedine Zidane’s absence.
Under-fire Hazard struck for only the second time this season as Karim Benzema’s double helped Real cut the lead on LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid to four points, albeit having played twice more.
Ex-Chelsea star Eden Hazard salutes his first Real Madrid goal in nearly three months Credit: The Mega Agency
Eden Hazard watches only his second goal this term as he doubles Real Madrid’s lead in a 4-1 LaLiga winCredit: AP:Associated Press
Ever-reliable striker Karim Benzema struck in each half to spearhead Real’s vital victory at strugglers AlavesCredit: Reuters
Assistant boss David Bettoni took charge as Zidane stayed away after testing positive for Covid-19 on Friday night.
But Real still settled quickly, Casemiro nodding home a cross from Toni Kroos on 15 minutes.
French striker Benzema then dipped a sizzling top-corner second goal in the 42nd minute following Hazard’s neat backheel.
And having earlier curled a shot wide, Hazard made it three with a delicate finish past Alaves keeper Fernando Pacheco just before the break.
Joselu flashed a superb header beyond Real No1 Thibaut Courtois to give the lowly home side hope.
But Benzema safeguarded only Real’s second triumph in six matches, cutting in from the left with 20 minutes remaining to thump home.
Victory soothed painful memories of Wednesday’s shock 2-1 defeat at third-division Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey, as well as Real’s Spanish Super Cup semi-final loss to Athletic Bilbao by the same scoreline on January 14.
And Benzema insisted: “This was a great performance from us and will lift our confidence
“We know every game is difficult, we always try to put in our best performance but sometimes it’s hard when teams defend deep.
“But today the goals kept flowing and that’s good for everyone, especially after the week we’ve had.”
Nonetheless, Atletico can restore their seven-point advantage over second-placed Real with a home win over mid-table Valencia on Sunday.
Real’s Eden Hazard reflects on his first goal since October 31Credit: Reuters