Marco Asensio rescues point for Real Madrid

Posted Monday, August 28, 2017 by PA

Marco Asensio prevented Real Madrid's belated title party from falling flat with a late equaliser to rescue a point against Valencia at the Bernabeu.

Real were presented with the LaLiga trophy before kick-off after claiming their 33rd title away to Malaga on the final day of last season.

Asensio's early strike meant the celebratory atmosphere continued until goals from Carlos Soler and Geoffrey Kondogbia threatened to cause an upset.

But Asensio's superb free-kick meant some wayward finishing from team-mate Karim Benzema was not fully punished.

Real felt they should have been awarded a penalty with just minutes on the clock as Ruben Vezo's attempt to control the ball with his left knee saw it bounce up onto his right hand, but the referee waved play on.

However, the home fans were soon celebrating the opening goal as Moreno Rodrigo gave away possession in his own half and Asensio picked up the loose ball before advancing on goal and curling a left-footed shot into the bottom corner.

Asensio almost turned provider on 17 minutes with a teasing cross into the area which was inches too high for Benzema to reach, but moments later Valencia were level.

Jose Luis Gaya and Toni Lato combined superbly down the left to allow Lato to fire in a dangerous cross which found Soler unmarked in front of goal with the simple task of diverting the ball into the net.

That took the wind out of Real's sails and it took until the 32nd minute for them to threaten again, Marcelo trying his luck from the corner of the area with a left-foot volley which was always rising too much to find the target.

But Zinedine Zidane's side could have been out of sight before the interval if not for Benzema missing a series of good chances, the first of which came courtesy of a quick counter-attack and saw the Frenchman's shot saved by the feet of goalkeeper Murara Neto.

From the following corner Benzema's header glanced off the outside of the post and minutes later he somehow fired over from five yards out from Gareth Bale's left-wing cross.

Benzema then headed a cross from Toni Kroos wide as the sides headed into the half-time interval on level terms, a state of affairs which saw Mateo Kovacic replace Isco in midfield for the second period.

Both sides had chances to go in front before Kondogbia looked to have produced the decisive strike, the midfielder side-footing home from Rodrigo's pull-back to the edge of the area.

But with Bale substituted and Cristiano Ronaldo absent, Asensio took it upon himself to perform the free-kick heroics on 82 minutes as he curled in the equaliser from just outside the box after Rodrigo had fouled Mateo Kovacic.

There was still time for Benzema to miss another glorious chance from 10 yards after Asensio's initial effort had been saved, before Neto tipped the Frenchman's last-gasp header onto the post.


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