Madrid, Spain (AFP) – Marcelo celebrated by taking a knee as Real Madrid returned from three months away following the coronavirus suspension by beating Eibar 3-1 on Sunday.
After scoring Madrid’s third goal in the 37th minute, Marcelo dropped onto his left knee and raised his clinched right fist into the air, apparently in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Madrid’s win may have come at a cost as Eden Hazard and Sergio Ramos were both substituted early in the second half and were seen with ice packs strapped to them while sitting in the stands.
Hazard was making his first start since February and his ice pack appeared to be around his troublesome right ankle, which he injured in November and February, before undergoing surgery in March.
“We knew Eden would lack a bit of rhythm playing the whole game,” coach Zinedine Zidane said.
“He played well for an hour, he took a knock which was a scare but at half-time he said he was fine. He is happy with what he has done and we are happy with him.”
Madrid’s win means they reduce the gap behind league leaders Barcelona back to two points after the Catalans thrashed Real Mallorca 4-0 on Saturday.
Madrid struck in the fourth minute after a superb strike from Toni Kroos before Ramos tucked away Hazard’s pass on the counter-attack.
Eibar pulled one back in the second half through Pedro Bigas but never found the second to make Madrid nervous, despite a brief spell of pressure.
Before going off, Hazard was busy, the Belgian involved in all three goals.
His weaving run through midfield led to Kroos’ shot and it was his effort that was cleared out to Marcelo, who drove into the corner.
After a miserable opening season in Spain, it was a bright start for Hazard, who could now redeem himself by playing a crucial role in the run-in, if he can stay injury-free.
Perhaps even more impressive though was Karim Benzema, who linked up brilliantly with Hazard and was unfortunate not to get the goal an excellent all-round performance deserved.
Gareth Bale started on the bench but came on and could start against Valencia on Thursday.
Zidane is likely to rotate heavily over the next few weeks, with the games coming thick and fast.