Real Madrid finished their La Liga season with a 4-2 victory over Osasuna, but all eyes at the Bernabeu were on the man sitting on the Madrid bench for the final time, Jose Mourinho. The action on the pitch, which saw Roberto Torres and Alvaro Cejudo cancel out Gonzalo Higuain and Michael Essien’s first-half efforts before Karim Benzema and Jose Callejon secured victory for the home side, was almost secondary to the chanting that was going on around the Bernabeu. While some voices were still in support of the outgoing coach, but most letting him know how glad they were to see the back of him.
The bizarre atmosphere epitomized one of the reasons why all parties will breathe a sigh of relief that the Mourinho era is coming to an end, with the manager’s relationship with players, bosses, media and fans overshadowing events on the pitch. For his final match in charge, part forced and part by design, Mourinho selected an unfamiliar lineup missing the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and with Jesus making his first start for the club in goal.
Those details were of little interest at kick-off as Mourinho slipped out of the tunnel and onto the bench but not without a cacophonous reaction from the crowd and a swarm of photographers that incredibly led to the match being halted until they were removed.
When the action did properly get underway, Osasuna began brightly and tested Jesus for the first of many occasions as Llorente’s header was turned around the post by the 24-year-old Madrid keeper. There was an even better stop just past the half-hour mark as Jesus dived low to block another effort from the Osasuna striker.
It was Madrid that were the more clinical, though, and in the 35th minute they went in front. A clever flick from Angel di Maria got his fellow Argentinean Higuain through on goal and the striker, potentially in his last appearance for the club, produced a clinical low finish past Asier Riesgo. Three minutes later it was 2-0. From Mesut Ozil’s corner, Essien, despite retreating from goal, was able to get enough power on a header to take it past Riesgo and low into the corner. Despite the goal, the fact that Essien ran over to the bench to embrace a man he has described as father figure only led to further jeers from the crowd.
There was to be a twist as Osasuna were rewarded for their endeavors at the beginning of the second half to get back on level terms. Their first goal was one to remember too as Torres took the ball inside Alvaro Arbeloa on the edge of the box before whipping a low shot into the far corner to finally beat Jesus. And in the 63rd minute Cejudo headed a flicked-on corner to draw level.
But, despite having missed chances through Luka Modric and Jose Callejon, Madrid would at least end a tumultuous season on a winning note. There was plenty to admire about the goal that put Madrid back in front as Ozil played a little pass into the box and Benzema instantly took it stylishly past Ruben before driving a shot in off of Riesgo. And with three minutes remaining Callejon finished low into the corner following Benzema’s layoff to cap a typically rapid Madrid counter attack.