Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos made amends for his team with a brace against Malaga to keep the European champions in sight of the La Liga trophy.
Ramos fluffed his lines last weekend with a headed own goal against second-placed Sevilla that condemned his side to their first defeat since April 2016. It also closed the gap between the Europa League winners against table-toppers Real to just one point, although Los Blancos still have a game in hand.
But the Spain international showed his clear intent to repair the damage this week with two goals against Malaga that sent Real four points clear of his former club, albeit briefly before Sevilla closed the gap again the next day.
While Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo both missed clear chances, Ramos brought Real ahead by by powering Toni Kroos’s outswinging corner beyond Malaga keeper Carlos Kameni and struck again in the 43rd when he slid in a free-kick from his German team-mate from close range to net his eighth goal this season.
A remarkable feat for any defender, it is even more impressive as the goal was also Ramos’s sixth in the Spanish league this season — besting his previous record of five with half a season yet to come.
Despite ending the match with a high note, Ramos insisted that Real still needs support and solidarity from their fans — especially during hard times — as Real players were booed after suffering two consecutive defeats, first against Sevilla last weekend and subsequently against Celta Vigo mid-week at home.
“I’ve always said that we can never change the Bernabeu,” Ramos said. “I’ve spent many years here and like Marcelo said after the [Copa del Rey] game the other day, all of the great players have been whistled here at some point. It’s a wake-up call to make the team respond.”
“But it’s in the difficult moments that we need them to be behind us, not kicking us when we are down.”
“We know how our fans are and we like the way they are. The objective is that we all take this forward together.”
Testing times lay ahead for Real Madrid. They face Celta Vigo away in the second leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final mid-week, before hosting La Liga fifth-placed team Real Sociedad next weekend, before making a visit to Celta again.