Real Madrid 2-2 Valencia: Los Blancos Held To Draw After Shoddy Finishing Display
Real Madrid were made to pay for their poor finishing as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Valencia on Sunday evening.
Los Blancos boss Zinedine Zidane again had Marco Asensio to thank for rescuing the point, with the youngster opening the scoring with a superb piece of individual play inside the opening 10 minutes, and rescuing his side a point inside the final 10 minutes with a similar showcase of talent.
However, the holding champions certainly were made to work for their share of the spoils, thanks to a superb team goal rounded off by Carlos Soler Barragan midway through the first half and then Geoffrey Kondogbia's well timed finish with just 15 minutes to go.
But the night will go down as a one of missed opportunities, with Karim Benzema in particular offered ample chances to clinch all three points, but it was simply not to be.
The night began with a party atmosphere inside the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium as club captains Sergio Ramos and Marcelo finally got their hands on the La Liga trophy they had captured three months ago after securing the title back in May.
And you could have been mistaken for thinking that last season hadn't even come to an end with the hosts so dominant from the outset, including having a penalty shout turned down inside the opening two minutes, with Ruben Vezo seemingly handling Asensio's flick-on inside the area, but the referee was quick to wave away the appeals.
However, it didn't take long for the midfielder to have an impact on proceedings, as inside 10 minutes the young Spaniard capitalised on sloppy build-up play from Valencia in their own half before skipping past the lacklustre recovering defence and whipping his finish past the motionless Neto to continue his incredible start to the campaign.
The hosts continued to press, and the 21-year-old came close to turning provider after fizzing a beautifully struck cross which was inches away from connecting with the head of Benzema, who found himself in ample space.
However, completely against the run of play, it was the visitors who grabbed the second goal of the evening, with Soler converting from close range after fluid passing allowed Antonio Latorre Grueso an opening to burn down the left-hand wing before sliding his cross across the face of goal and into the path of the 20-year-old midfielder, who was left with a simple tap-in from six yards.
The tempo continued to remain high and as the half time whist approached it was Benzema who became Los Blancos' main focal point in attack, however the Frenchman was unable to convert any of the chances that fell his way.
The 29-year-old's side-footed effort from outside the area was met by Neto with a strong right hand that pushed the ball away from goal in an attack that resulted from a defensive corner less than 20 seconds previously.
From the resulting set-piece the striker was unable to divert his header home, and instead saw his scuffed attempt ricochet off the post and away from danger.
But Benzema should have made no mistake with less than five minutes of the half remaining, blazing his volley over the bar from four yards out when it looked easier to score.
Again just moments later the Lyon-born attacker spurned another great opportunity, directing his free header wide of Valencia's right upright - prompting the cat whistles to echo around the Santiago Bernabeu as the referee brought a close to the half.
After the break it was again the France international who was guilty of squandering another great opportunity to put his side in front, with the talisman failing to divert another free volley towards goal.
However, that seemed to set the tone for the following 30 minutes, with Gareth Bale almost mirroring Kondogbia's headed effort at the other end just minutes previously, with both ending up over the crossbar after poorly timed headed attempts from close range were driven into the ground.
But the visitors continued to grow into the second half and were the ones to finally take one of their chances, courtesy of Kondogbia - who was found on the edge of the area after another long ball stretched the miss-matched Madrid defence before beautifully side-footing his inch-perfect effort past the outstretched Navas.
But the lead didn't last long as the Santiago Bernabeu were once again brought to their feet thanks to another individual moment of magic from Asensio, who was on hand to take up free-kick duties with the previously substituted Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Ramos all absent.
The 21-year-old took advantage of poor goalkeeping from Neto, who instinctively took a step away from his side of the goal, and was subsequently left stranded as a spectator as the 20-yard effort skimmed past him bringing Madrid back level.
The equaliser seemed to be the catalyst to another Los Blancos onslaught, but unfortunately, at least on this particular evening, the hosts best chances fell to Benzema, who again was unable to add his name onto the scoresheet.
The usually prolific talisman was left with his head in his hands as he was found on the edge of the six-yard-box, only to fire his effort in front of goal wide of the post, much to the displeasure of the home crowd.
But he could not be blamed for his final attempt, with the Frenchman's seemingly perfectly timed header somehow clawed away from the top right-hand corner of Neto's goal, who, with that sublime save, earned his side a well-deserved point.