A last-minute goal from Manu Garcia earned Alaves a dramatic 1-0 victory over crisis-ridden and goal-challenged Real Madrid on Saturday night at the Estadio Mendizorroza in Vitoria.
In the final 30 seconds of second half stoppage time, Real dealt poorly with an Alaves corner kick and Manu Garcia was there to take advantage, nodding in a header to give the Basques the three points.
Real have now gone an astonishing six hours and 49 minutes without scoring a goal, the last score coming way back on September 22 when Marco Asensio scored in the 41st minute of a 1-0 win versus Espanyol.
It was the same story for a Real side that was poor in the opponent’s area.
Too often passes were broken up or simply miss the intended target, making life easier for the Alaves defence. Credit should go to Alaves boss Abelardo though. He had his team set up well in a 4-5-1 and goalkeeper Pacheco was never truly troubled over the course of the 90 minutes.
The big news from manager Julen Lopetgui’s starting XI was the inclusion of Dani Ceballos for Asensio, while the injuries to Marcelo and Dani Carvajal led to starts for Nacho and Adrian Odriozola, respectively.
Real quickly went to work trying to break their dry spell; a hard-struck Dani Ceballos shot and a header from Karim Benzema were the early chances, but after 10 minutes their attack went quiet, while Alaves grew in confidence.
The Basques’ best opportunity came midway through the half when Jony flighted in a cross from the left and a goal-line intervention was needed from Raphael Varane on a Jonathan Calleri effort. Otherwise, it was a cagey 45 minutes of football between the two sides in which Alaves’ timely defensive interventions and Real’s lack of a cutting edge resulted in a scoreless first half.
Plenty of eyebrows were raised when Los Blancos returned from the tunnel without Benzema, as the French striker was replaced at the break by Mariano.
It was still tough sledding though for Real. Lopetegui’s men looked fatigued and out of sorts, with a complete lack of ideas in the final third, so Asensio was brought on for Casemiro in hopes of a spark.
The change did nothing and as each minute passed, the Real frustration grew and that was evident by the gestures of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, who at different points raised their arms in frustration at the lack of danger being created. And for an Alaves back line that was compact and well set up, it was easy to defend.
Alaves mustered little themselves in attack, but on a rare chance via the counter Jony came within inches of scoring but his left-footer from the left flank skipped just wide of the far post.
Making matters worse for Real was another injury for Gareth Bale, who gave up his spot to Vinicius with just 10 minutes left on the clock.
It looked for all the world that things would end scoreless, but with just seconds remaining, Alaves sent their home fans into euphoria when a Sobrino header across goal was tipped by Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and Manu Garcia soared in to head the ball into net from just a metre out to give Alaves the dramatic 1-0 victory.