Well, it turned out to be a very good choice of match to go and check out Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu. Although if you had asked me at half-time, I might have disagreed. Getafe took a 10th minute lead through Roberto Soldado and, although the atmosphere had hardly been electric up to that point, that silenced the vast majority of the Real Madrid support.
Real were genuinely poor in the first half. Really bad. Sergio Ramos was misplacing passes left, right and centre. Marcelo looked unable to defend and unable to beat his man going forward, which made you wonder what exactly he was in the team for. And Fernando Gago was awful – his ‘passing’ was one of the few things to raise the volume of the Real fans around me.
Getafe looked the more dangerous side, but predictably Real snatched an equaliser just before the break as Gonzalo Higuain squeezed the ball in from close range. I predicted a Juande Ramos rollicking and a rejuvenated Real in the second half. But the real half-time action was in the stands. No half-time pie here as every single Real fan around me dipped into a bag to pull out a homemade baguette. The Bernabeu’s cleaners must be left with enough tin foil to keep Madrid’s drug addicts chasing the dragon for weeks!
The crowd had been calling out for Arjen Robben during the first-half, and the balding Dutchman was duly introduced after the interval. He temporarily provided Real with some width and a bit of flair, before heading back down the tunnel with yet another injury after a 17 minute cameo.
The match really came to life in the last 10 minutes. Real knew that a draw was no good to them and pushed on looking for a winning goal. Being an Englishman, my natural inclination was to root for the underdog but Getafe’s time-wasting antics (which started in the first-half!) sorely tested this.
It was Getafe who got the breakthrough though. Real’s attacking play left gaps at the back and Getafe found themselves with a man over in the Real area in the 84th minute. Jaime Gavilan headed the ball down to the unmarked Albin, who made no mistake.
The Real fans who began to stream out of the exits at this point will be regretting their decision this morning. Two minutes later the otherwise indifferent Guti curled a superb free-kick into the top corner. There was still no chance of Real settling for a draw and they raced back to their own half urging Getafe to kick-off.
They were soon wishing they had slowed things down though. Real again left gaps at the back and with Javi Casquero through on goal, Pepe pushed him in the back in the penalty area before kicking him… twice. The Portuguese was inevitably red-carded.
Casquero dusted himself off and stood up to take one of the worst penalties I have ever seen. Trying to be clever, he chipped the ball so delicately down the middle of the goal that Iker Casillas had time to dive, stand up again and stop the ball one-handed.
The Bernabeu roared Real on and deep into injury time the excellent Higuain, by far Real’s best player, scored a lovely goal from the edge of the penalty area.
Video via 101GG
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