Newly promoted Elche were denied a point at home to Real Madrid after a controversial penalty was converted by Cristiano Ronaldo with virtually the last kick of the match. Elche had only just equalized Ronaldo’s earlier free-kick with a goal from Richmond Boakye when referee Cesar Muniz Fernandez intervened. Rubin Perez got involved in a tussle with Madrid defender Pepe in the box and the two went to the ground with the Portuguese appearing to have as much to do with it as the Elche midfielder. But a spot-kick was awarded and Ronaldo duly struck it home to the anger of the majority inside the Martinez Valero.
The victory makes it five wins and one draw for Madrid to start the Primera Division season and keeps them within two points of both Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga. Carlo Ancelotti’s side take on their city rivals at the Bernabeu on Saturday.
They will do so having breathed a heavy sigh of relief in Alicante. Madrid had been given a tough examination by another recent arrival to the Spanish top flight, with a 2-2 draw against Villarreal earlier in the month, and it was a similar story on Wednesday.
As he had been against Villarreal, Diego Lopez was forced into some fine saves to prevent the Segunda Division champions from taking the lead. Madrid will also have been grateful that Sergio Ramos was not given a second yellow card for a poor challenge on Coro.
But six minutes into the second half Madrid went in front. It was yet another free-kick goal from Ronaldo, but this was not one of his finest. The Elche wall must take much of the blame for allowing the ball to go through them, while goalkeeper Manu Herrera failed to get across in time.
It appeared that the goal would be enough to get the three points for the visitors, although they were never in total control. And as the match ticked into injury time Elche grabbed what looked like being a memorable goal in their first season back in the top flight following a 24-year absence. Fidel provided a cross from the left and Ghanaian striker Boakye, on loan from Juventus, powered a header into the net.
Incredibly, further drama was to come with an incident that is sure to be discussed across Spain for some time to come.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.