Real Madrid will be as disappointed with the 2-2 result against Valencia as the home team will be themselves, though for entirely different reasons. Los Blancos had the opportunities in this game to put it to bed, but the final ball was the missing element in this game for them, and in the end, justified their point.
Valencia, at home in the Mestalla, were expected to give La Madridistas a tough night, and they performed their duty duly in that regard. But, Gary Neville still had not won his first game in charge of Valencia and he, arguably, had the best opportunity to do so in this game vs. Real, crazy though it might seem at first to those who didn’t watch the game without the piece of information that Real were down to ten men with a fair amount of the game remaining, some twenty minutes.
Although both teams will feel mistreated, I’m sure the onlookers will have been jumping up in the air in delight for the scintillating football that they saw during the course of the 90 minutes, more evidently during the closing stages of the game. It was end-to-end action, per the phrase invented by commentators. Overall, Real Madrid dominated possession, and Valencia mostly created the biggest of their chances on the break.
The referee was the only frustration from a footballing perspective in this match. Jose Sanchez Martinez didn’t really control the game but affected its outcome hugely with most of his decisions. There were two genuine penalty appeals from Real Madrid that was turned down, the first involving Gareth Bale, and the second, as he cannot go a match without appealing for a pen., Cristiano Ronaldo. This time, though, even Ronaldo’s appeal had legitimacy in it as he quite clearly was bundled over by Abdennour and the Valencia keeper, Domenech. But, as Ronaldo is often known for over-doing his part after getting fouled, it is in a sense a mistake that is his own fault.
And that is also the case with the Bale situation. He, like Ronaldo, often overdoes his acting to convince the referees and his fame in that department is the only possible justification behind the ref not giving the penalty.
Right after Ronaldo’s incident, there was a Valencia attack going to the other end, which soon ceased due to a heart-wrenching tackle by Mateo Kovačić. Soon after that, he received a red-card (one of the few refereeing decisions that were correct, in my opinion) and then, people really started getting nervy inside the Mestalla. Would Gary Neville go for the win against a 10-man Real even though they could make them pay on the break? The answer was a resounding yes, as Neville soon after the red card brought on Rodrigo, who is a striker by trade, to go alongside Alcácer and lead the line in attack.
What followed after that substitution was the stuff of footballing dreams. Things that you always want to see every single game, but occurs rarely. Bale gave his team the lead with a fantastic header, but then, as Madrid were still celebrating, a minute later Alcácer equalized with a close range header, set up by the new substitute Rodrigo who glided it in his teammate’s path with his head. I swear I have never heard a stadium get that loud in a La Liga game. The adrenaline rush was on, and I felt like doing a celebratory dance myself.
The rest of the game went quite scrappy until the last two or three minutes, where Negredo, another substitute, was presented with an opportunity on the break that was easier to score than miss, but he still somehow managed the latter. And immediately after that, Modric, who had been brilliant throughout the game played a long ball to Bale who had an angle on goal and no man to beat but sent the volley to the heavens. Right where, this game, for me, came from.