Carlo Ancelotti was made to wait for victory in his first Liga game as Real Madrid manager, with Isco’s late winner sealing a fiercely contested 2-1 win over Real Betis.
Jorge Molina had given Betis an early lead, rewarding their good start, before Karim Benzema restored parity with a powerful near-post finish. But Madrid had to wait until the 85th minute to secure the win, with Isco meeting Marcelo’s header to make it 2-1.
Ancelotti made headlines before kick-off by dropping Iker Casillas to the bench, opting to stick with Diego Lopez, who was Jose Mourinho’s number one for most of last season.
The home side started brightly and had the ball in the net after three minutes, but Marcelo was adjudged to be offside as he crossed for the own goal off Betis defender Damien Perquis.
However it was the visitors that opened the scoring, when the impressive Cedric burst through the Real Madrid backline at will before squaring for Molina to tap into the empty net.
Real looked flustered and were struggling to deal with the pace of Cedric down the flanks, although it was Jorge Molina who almost doubled Betis’ lead when chasing down a through ball. However Lopez came off his line to boldly smother the shot in the edge of his box.
Madrid’s response was swift and after two disallowed goals they finally restored parity through Benzema, when the Frenchman latched on to Isco’s clever pass inside the box to finish at the near post.
But Betis refused to give up and came close to regaining their lead after the half hour mark when Nosa Igiebor smashed a header off the crossbar.
Real Madrid came out for the second half reinvigorated, with Ronaldo firing a powerful effort off the woodwork after good exchange play between Benzema and Isco.
Marcelo was proving an effective outlet on the left wing and almost found Ronaldo with a fizzed cross into the box. However the Portuguese couldn’t stretch far enough, failing to connect on the slide.
Angel Di Maria, Casemiro and Alvaro Morata were introduced with the home side still searching for a winner. And Di Maria came close to finding the net after cutting inside off the wing on to his left foot and shooting at goal. However his effort was palmed away by Stephan Andersen.
Ancelotti’s side continued to press forward with just minutes remaining and with the pressure building to a point Isco headed home Marcelo’s cross with just five minutes remaining to give Real Madrid a 2-1 win over a spirited Betis side.
Real Madrid – Lopez 6, Carvajal 4, Pepe 5, Ramos 4, Marcelo 8, Khedira 5, Modric 7, Isco 7, Ozil 6, Ronaldo 7, Benzema 7. Subs – Casimiro 6, Di Maria 6.
Real Betis – Andersen 7, Chica 5, Perquis 5, Paulao 6, Nacho 5, Matilla 7, Igiebor 5, Juanfran 6, Verdu 7, Cedric 8, Molina 7. Subs – Perez Lopez 5, Vadillo 4.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Marcelo (Real Madrid) - The Brazilian left back was always an option on the left wing and provided the cross that led to Isco’s winner. His crossing in general was exceptional, giving Madrid width where there otherwise was none.