Real Madrid sent a strong message to La Liga title rivals Barcelona that they will not be giving up without a fight as they got their season restart off to a flyer.
Barcelona thumped Mallorca 4-0 on Saturday night, with Arturo Vidal opening the scoring after only 65 seconds and Lionel Messi rounding off the rout, to open up a five-point gap on second-placed Real.
Not to be outdone, Zinedine Zidane’s men showed they were firing on all cylinders despite the three-month coronavirus-enforced shutdown to thump Eibar 3-1 at their new Estadio Alfredo di Stefano 6,000-capacity training facility.
There were no fans on hand to witness a cracker of an open ing goal. Only three minutes were on the clock when Toni Kroos unleashed an unstoppable rocket from distance that Marko Dmitrovic could only watch from between the Eibar sticks.
Sergio Ramos doubled Real’s lead on the half-hour mark as he picked up Eden Hazard’s layoff — following some sublime passing that looked right at home on the stadium’s training surface — and slotted home from close range.
Six minutes later and it was beginning to look like a long night for Eibar as Marcelo smashed home another powerful effort to make it three. The Brazilian defender marked his goal by taking a knee, a show of support for the anti-racism protests that have been taking place around the globe following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in police custody in the US.
The visitors came out after the interval revitalised, and Real keeper Thibaut Courtois had to look alert to palm away an effort from Sergio Enrich.
Eiber did manage to reduce the deficit when Courtois committed a bit of a howler. Pedro Bigas’ tame shot bounced off the tall Belgian keeper before trundling over the line to leave the man in gloves red-faced.
Still, it was a strong performance from Real to close the gap on Barca to two points once again with 10 games to go and they certainly look like taking this La Liga title fight to the wire.
Athletic Bilbao 1 Atletico Madrid 1
Real Madrid 3 Eibar 1