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Asensio rises to the occasion to save day for Ronaldo-less Real Madrid


Many thanks to Marco Asensio, Real Madrid were saved from the throes of defeat in the La Liga last Sunday.

He netted a brace, in the 10th minute and in the 83rd, as the Los Blancos, playing without their suspended superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, salvaged a draw with Valencia.

His heroics gave a huge sigh of relief to the 65-strong crowd who trooped to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to cheer the home team from the opening whistle.

Their effort did not go in vain as Asensio rose to the occasion to avert a shock debacle by the defending champions.

The 21-year-old attacking playmaker opened the scoring from 20 yards, after which midfielder Carlos Soler levelled for the visitors from close range after an awesome team move in the 18th.

To the dismay of home backers, midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia shoved Valencia ahead from the edge of the area in the 77th.

But Asensio equalised with a free-kick to wipe away those anxious moments and complete his heroics.

Striker Karim Benzema flubbed several simple opportunities to score and almost won it for the Los Blancos when his header was tipped onto the post by Valencia goalkeeper Neto.

Benzema fired a number of close-range shots wide, including one from the rebound of a blocked cross by Asensio moments before that header.

The demanding Real fans booed Benzema as well as Gareth Bale but both players treated the heckling with level heads.

Real boss Zinedine Zidane, who defended Benzema and Bale after those jeers, deployed midfielder Casemiro in central defence due to Sergio Ramos’ ban and injuries to defenders Raphael Varane and Jesus Vallejo.

Kondogbia made his Valencia debut alongside defender Jeison Murillo, with the duo moving on loan from Inter Milan this week.

The draw put Real in fifth place with four points after two matches in the new season. Real Sociedad, Barcelona and Leganes are ahead with similar six points apiece.

Asensio’s awesome performance merited plenty of praises. And why not?

His effort just showed that Real can be as tough as nails even without Ronaldo or their other star players.

Those two goals against Valencia made it sure that Real Madrid did not leave the stadium empty-handed.

Their fans, too, were consoled enough that the Spanish international was there to spare them from blushes.

For his dazzling show, Asensio is our hands-down choice as Player of the Week.