Real Madrid defeated Cadiz 2-1 on Thursday, Toni Kroos scoring an impressive volley to close the gap on La Liga leaders Barcelona to two points.
Carlo Ancelotti’s team was catching up to their fierce rivals in the final league game before the Qatar World Cup break after they defeated Osasuna on Tuesday.
At times, the game threatened to get physical as Cadiz repeatedly fouled Madrid winger Vinicius Junior, but Eder Militao’s header and then Kroos’ incredible goal kept Madrid in the game and gave them the victory they needed.
Lucas Perez pulled one back for Cadiz in the final stages, ensuring second-place Madrid have not kept a clean sheet at home in La Liga this season and have conceded in seven consecutive league matches.
“We had a good game apart from the last 10 minutes,” Kroos told DAZN.
“We had chances but suffered a bit with the goal we conceded unnecessarily. I think we had a good game.”
Karim Benzema missed Wednesday’s training session due to illness, but he has been named to France’s World Cup roster.
Madrid’s attack lacked sheen without the Ballon d’Or winner, and maybe some people’s thoughts had begun to shift to the upcoming competition in Qatar.
However, Kroos hadn’t lost focus, and he gave Los Blancos the victory with a goal and an assist.
The visitors had few noteworthy chances prior to Madrid’s opening goal, and Pacha Espino’s long-range shot went just wide of the crossbar.
In the 40th minute, Militao successfully stayed just slightly onside and avoided any defensive attention after a corner was only partially cleared.
The only other incident in the first half involved some pushing and shoving between members of the opposing teams, with Vinicius squaring off against defender Fali after the latter struck Rodrygo with an arm off the ball.
“They defend in their manner. I think we have to be a bit calmer and concentrate more on playing football,” added Kroos.
“If we react then they make us play their game. That’s what they want, wasting time with each argument. I prefer to stay out of it and play football, because we are better.”
Rodrygo was angry after the clash, in which Fali’s swing at him appeared intentional.
“I don’t think it’s (just) an incident, he did it on purpose, he looked at me and he hit me,” Rodrygo told DAZN.
“It’s shameful because later he told me he didn’t do anything. I don’t know why VAR is even there.”
The second half meandered until former Germany international Kroos brought fans to their feet with a special strike after 70 minutes, volleying home from outside the area after a cross deflected into his path.
The third should have arrived soon after but Luka Modric missed a sitter with the goal gaping after Vinicius cut the ball back in the box.
Barely able to believe he had missed, the Santiago Bernabeu chanted Modric’s name. After so many years of immaculate service, the veteran Croatian midfielder could be forgiven this time.