Madrid: David Alaba scored with a stunning free-kick just after coming on as a substitute as reigning champions Real Madrid beat Almería 2-1 in their season opener in La Liga on Sunday.
The Carlo Ancelotti-led team equalized an early goal from Largui Ramazani against newly promoted opponents, but Lucas Vázquez equalized just after the hour mark.
The winner arrived at Almería’s Power Horse stadium with 15 minutes remaining, Alaba stepped onto the pitch and curled a free kick from the uprights after a foul on Luka Modric just outside the box.
Real have been forced to work hard to score a point to return to La Liga after a seven-year hiatus against Almeria’s side, who won the second division title last season.
At one point it looked like Madrid could lose in the season opener for the first time since 2008.
The Italian made five changes to the line-up that started Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the UEFA Super Cup in Helsinki, with goals from Alaba and Karim Benzema clinching the title of defending European champions. The first silverware of the campaign has been awarded.
Alaba and Modric were among the players dropped to the bench, while late season signings Antonio Rudiger and Aurelien Chuameni made their first competitive start at the new club.
But just six minutes into the game, former Chelsea defender Rudiger was caught on an overball and Ramazani ran through to beat Thibaut Courtois.
Former Manchester United record-breaking 21-year-old Belgian winger Ramazani ran into celebration in acrobatic fashion as Saudi-owned Almeria enjoyed a dream start to a top-flight comeback.
Still, the home side needed an inspiring goalkeeper from Fernando Martinez to take the lead at half-time. At half time he had a great save to his left to hold off Rudiger five minutes ago.
Vázquez netted the ball in the 43rd minute and was denied by a very tight offside call.area to score.
Almeria, who had already seen Vinicius’ dangling cross hit the frame of the goal earlier, immediately conceded again.
Austrian defender Alaba waited on the sideline for an opportunity when Modric was fouled outside the box by Rodrigo Ealy.
A break in play allowed him to replace Ferland Mendy, taking a free-kick and scoring in spectacular fashion, completing the latest comeback from Ancelotti’s side.
https://www.kuwaittimes.com/alaba-free-kick-gives-real-madrid-win-to-start-title-defence/ Alaba’s free-kick gives Real Madrid victory and begins title defense