SEVILLE, Spain – Dani Ceballos found the twine on a free kick in the 88th minute and handed Real Madrid a 2-1 victory over his former team – Real Betis –, which had battled the capital powerhouse down almost to the wire in what everyone thought would be a draw.
Madrid got on the board first in the 13th minute at Benito Villamarin stadium before some 54,000 fans on Sunday on a great drive and score by Luka Modric, who fired one into the top of the net from just outside the penalty zone.
Sergio Canales took until two minutes after the break to take Betis’s first shot on goal, with Costa Rica’s Keylor Navas, filling in for Thibaut Courtois at goalie, fending off the attempt.
Canales was on the scene once again in the 68th minute to hit the equalizer – which was counted only after an extensive VAR review, although the officials could see that Dani Carvajal was playing Canales onside, and thus the tally counted.
However, Ceballos, who had not started, was sent in and made the difference for Madrid just two minutes before the end of regulation time, moving the squad into fourth place in the La Liga rankings.
The free kick came from the edge of the box, with Ceballos firing a bender that swooped around the arguably poorly-placed wall to make it past Lopez and into the net.
Real Madrid is now 10 points behind Barcelona, although Karim Benzema was injured in Sunday’s match and the squad has been playing without strikers Gareth Bale and Mariano Diaz, along with several other regulars such as Toni Kroos, Marcos Llorente, Marco Asencio, Lucas Vazquez and – of course – Courtois.
Vinicius played, although he had been out of commission in recent days with the flu.