Asensio free-kick staves off shock defeat

Valencia looked set to take all three points but Marco Asensio's 82nd-minute free-kick earned Real Madrid a draw.

Marco Asensio celebrates scoring for Real Madrid   -  Getty Images

Marco Asensio's 82nd-minute free-kick earned Real Madrid a dramatic 2-2 draw against Valencia, staving off what would have been a shock defeat at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Valencia debutant Geoffrey Kondogbia appeared to have snatched all three points for the visitor, but Asensio assured Madrid was not left empty-handed with his second goal of the match earning a share of the spoils.

The young attacker's first came after just 10 minutes, giving Madrid further reason to celebrate after it was presented with the La Liga trophy following its triumphant 2016-17 campaign prior to kick-off.

Asensio came into the side due to Sergio Ramos' suspension — Cristiano Ronaldo was also banned — and the defender's absence was evident when Carlos Soler darted between the makeshift centre-back pairing of Casemiro and Nacho to equalise in the 18th minute.

Karim Benzema wasted numerous chances to restore Madrid's lead and his profligacy was punished when Kondogbia guided home a cool finish with 13 minutes remaining.

However, Asensio picked out the bottom-left corner with an excellent set-piece from 20 yards five minutes later to bring Madrid level before Benzema had a stoppage-time header pushed onto the post as Valencia goalkeeper Neto ensured it lost ground to title rival Barcelona.

Asensio gave Madrid an early lead when he pounced after Kondogbia failed to control Rodrigo's square pass and swept a fine finish into the bottom-left corner from the edge of the box.

Madrid's lead did not last long, though. Toni Lato was released down the left by Jose Gaya and pulled the ball back for Soler, whose darting run to the near post went untracked, to turn beyond Keylor Navas.

Benzema had a trio of chances to send Zinedine Zidane's side into the break ahead, but saw a shot saved by Neto and sent two efforts from around the six-yard box off target.

Valencia retained its shape well and frustrated the host, Gareth Bale – whose second-half substitution was met with jeers from a section of the Bernabeu crowd – powered a header into the ground which bounced wide before a strong 25-yard drive from Luka Modric stung the palms of Neto.

Dani Parejo's wicked free-kick forced Navas to leap to his left and push the ball away from the top corner but Kondogbia got the better of the Madrid goalkeeper, placing a low finish to his right from 15 yards following some excellent hold-up play by Rodrigo.

Rodrigo was then booked for a clumsy tackle on Mateo Kovacic – who replaced the disappointing Isco at half-time – 18 yards out and Asensio left Neto rooted to the spot for the second time from the resultant free-kick, beating the Brazilian on the side of the goal he was supposed to be defending.

Buoyed by the strike, Madrid pushed for a winner but once more Benzema was the source of its frustrations. After failing to steer a driven left-wing cross from Asensio on target he saw a stoppage-time header palmed onto the post by Neto, leaving Zidane spinning in frustration on the sidelines.

Madrid will aim to get back to winning ways when it entertains Levante after the international break, while Valencia will be pleased to have remained unbeaten Marcelino.

Key Opta stats:


Real Madrid is the first team in the top 5 European Leagues to score in 70 consecutive games in all competitions
Marco Asensio has scored more goals from outside the box than any other La Liga player this season in all competitions (three)
Valencia has drawn more La Liga away games against Real Madrid than any other side in the last 10 seasons (five, from 2008/09)
Karim Benzema attempted eight shots in this game, more than all Valencia players combined (seven)
Only Simone Zaza (seven) has scored more goals for Valencia than Carlos Soler (four) in La Liga in 2017


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