Goodbye 2023! Lucas Vasquez heads home for Real Madrid as they edge past Alaves at the Mendizorrotza

Despite playing with 10 men, Real Madrid were able to emerge victorious in their last game of 2023 - thanks to a brave-headed goal from Lucas Vasquez.
Deportivo Alaves v Real Madrid CF - LaLiga EA Sports
Deportivo Alaves v Real Madrid CF - LaLiga EA Sports / Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/GettyImages

Real Madrid finished their year triumphantly with another thrilling last-minute 1-0 victory over Alaves at Mendizorrotza. Despite encountering challenges against Luis Garcia's side, Lucas Vasquez's header secured all three points for the La Liga giants in their final calendar year fixture.

Luis Garcia's side were reeling from a disappointing 3-0 defeat against Girona last week but this time hosting Real Madrid at home was a major motivation for them. The initial half-hour witnessed a tense battle, with both teams rigorously testing each other's defences, only to fail in their quest to break the deadlock.

Fede Valverde came close to troubling the Alaves shot-stopper with his trademark long-range attempts but was unable to do so. A dry, frustrating half of football played by the Real Madrid frontline, calling for an improved attacking display in the second half.

The second half for Real Madrid was not kind as they saw Nacho sent off in the 53rd minute after his dreadful challenge on Samu Omorodion left the referee no choice but to hand out a red card after a brief consultation with the VAR. This was a game-changing moment for the visiting Merengues.

Following Nacho's dismissal, Carlo Ancelotti was forced to make a strategic tweak, sacrificing Luka Modric for Aurielien Tchouameni. This reshuffle saw Tchouameni step into the centre-back role, showcasing Ancelotti's trust in the Frenchman's versatility and tactical understanding to fortify the defense amidst the challenging circumstances.

Despite playing with 10 men, Real Madrid was still the better team on the pitch as they showed hunger to break the deadlock. In the last quarter of the game, Rodrygo was almost on the verge of grabbing the lead for his side as he saw his shot fly past the Alaves post.

The last 10 minutes of the game was a much more thrilling affair for both sides as they fought to grab a win for their respective sides.

Real Madrid's ability to win games at the death is no secret to their fans and it took a brave header from Lucas Vasquez in the 93rd minute to grab the much needed lead and also the winning goal.It was Toni Kroos' inch-perfect corner that helped Lucas Vasquez fire his header past Antonio Sivera.

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This win sees Real Madrid rise to the top spot in La Liga, level with Girona, who themselves drew against Real Betis earlier in the day. On the other hand, Luis Garcia will be disappointed with the result as a draw went begging for the Basque outfit.