Jan. 14 (UPI) — Luka Modric’s first half rip gave Real Madrid an initial lead, but the La Liga power needed a late score from Dani Ceballos to survive Real Betis.
Modric’s tally was a thing of beauty in the 13th minute of the clash Sunday at Benito Villamarin Stadium in Seville, Spain.
The Croatian star got the score after Dani Carvajal’s shot was blocked by Real Betis defender Marc Bartra. The deflection sprayed back into the box, where it found Modric. The star forward watched the ball roll onto his left foot, and he smashed a rip into the left side of the net for first blood.
Modric’s magic strike was the lone tally of the first half. Sergio Canales hit the equalizer for the home squad in the 67th minute. Midfielder Giovani Lo Celso laced a through ball between the Madrid defense during that sequence.
Canales somehow managed to stay onside and collected the feed as he dashed into the box. He finished the feed by tapping a shot off of Keylor Navas and into the net.
The score stayed even until Ceballos’ late decider.
Ceballos — who came into the match in the 74th minute — settled in for a free kick in the 88th minute. The Spanish midfielder stepped up and smacked the 20-yard shot, bending it low into the right corner of the net against his former squad.
“We are who we are, and we put in a very serious performance, I want to focus on that,” Madrid manager Santiago Solari told reporters. “The important thing is the three points as we continue to try and cut the lead at the top. We’re all part of the team, and the team is made up of those who play and those who don’t. In no way is there anything personal with anyone. The squad is what it is, and everyone can play.”
Madrid faces Leganes in the second leg of a Copa del Rey matchup at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at Estadio Municipal de Butarque in Madrid.