Karim Benzema scored twice as Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti enjoyed an emphatic 4-1 win on his return to LaLiga at Alaves.
Ancelotti left Everton to take charge of Los Blancos for the second time in June following Zinedine Zidane’s departure and the Italian secured three points in his first competitive game back at the helm.
Benzema, captaining the side following Sergio Ramos’ departure, scored twice in the second half either side of a strike from Nacho at Estadio Mendizorroza on Saturday.
Joselu pulled a one back from the penalty spot before Vinicius Junior added a last-gasp fourth goal as Madrid, with Gareth Bale making his first LaLiga start since June 2020, issued an early statement of intent.
Luis Rioja cut in from the right and tested Thibaut Courtois with a left-foot drive in a bright start for Alaves, but Madrid soon stamped their authority on the game.
Eden Hazard curled wide from just outside the penalty area and Bale was also off target as Madrid applied the pressure.
Benzema demonstrated exquisite control prior to bending a measured strike narrowly wide of the far post before Rioja poked an effort onto the roof of the net against the run of play.
France striker Benzema was not to be denied in the third minute of the second half, drilling home with his right foot after Hazard cleverly touched Lucas Vazquez’s cutback into his path.
Los Blancos were dominant and soon doubled their advantage, the classy Luka Modric conjuring up trickery and an pinpoint cross for Nacho, who volleyed in from close range as Alaves were caught out by a short corner.
Madrid had seemingly only just finished celebrating when Courtois brought down John Guidetti and Joselu gave Alaves hope from the spot with 65 minutes gone.
The hosts were never likely to mount a comeback, though, and Vinicius headed home a cross from new signing David Alaba right at the end.
What does it mean? Promising start to second Ancelotti era
It was the end of an era for Madrid with Ramos and Raphael Varane moving on.
Ancelotti has been charged with the task of trying to regain the title from city rivals Atletico Madrid and this was an encouraging start, although there will obviously be much bigger tests to come.
They have avoided defeat in their opening LaLiga game in every campaign since 2008, winning nine and drawing four of those matches.
Benzema leads by example
The prolific Benzema will be key to Madrid’s hopes of securing silverware this season and he appeared to thrive on the responsibility of wearing the armband.
Only Lionel Messi (23) has scored more goals in LaLiga this year than Benzema, who took his tally to 17 in 2021.
Benzema hit the target with half of his six shots and led the line brilliantly.
Bale over-eager to impress
Wales captain Bale was out in the cold under Zidane, who allowed him to join Tottenham on loan last season.
Eyebrows were raised when Ancelotti named the forward in the starting line-up and his first LaLiga appearance in over a year was certainly not one of his best. Bale hit the target once in four attempts – and that was a tame long-range free-kick.
Madrid are on the road again, travelling to Levante next Sunday. Alaves entertain Mallorca on Saturday.
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