Real Madrid secured their 11th consecutive away victory in La Liga with a commanding 3-1 win at high-flying Real Sociedad. Borja Mayoral nabbed the ball off Sergio Ramos' toe to open the scoring after 19 minutes. La Real equalised through Kevin Rodrigues just 10 minutes later, but Real Madrid went in at half-time with a 2-1 advantage.
Rodrigues was the protagonist again. In a frenetic, 30-second spell, he hit the bar and then turned the ball into his own net after superb play by Mayoral. Gareth Bale secured the victory with an emphatic finish on the hour mark.
Borja Mayoral's opening goal secured a spot in the annals of history for this Real Madrid team. They have now scored in 73 consecutive matches, equalling the record set by Pele's Santos side in the early 1960s. Fittingly, the streak started with a 1-0 win at Real Sociedad in April 2016. The opener by 20-year-old Mayoral was his first official goal for Madrid, and his impressive performance came at the perfect time to allay concerns about Zidane's lack of options at No. 9.
It feels almost churlish to dampen a wholly positive evening for Madrid. Los Blancos dispatched strong opposition, Mayoral showed that he can play a supporting role, and Gareth Bale had his first goal of the season. The only concern came in added time, when Theo Hernandez gingerly walked off the pitch with a shoulder injury.
8 (out of 10) -- Zinedine Zidane's decision to place faith in Mayoral was vindicated, and his team gelled in a way that they had not against Levante. Marco Asensio flourished when given license to roam from the left wing.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Keylor Navas, 5 -- The Costa Rica international allowed Rodrigues' shot to squirm under his body for Real Sociedad's goal. The wet conditions and the power behind the effort provide an explanation but not an excuse.
DF Dani Carvajal, 6 -- Guilty of ball-watching for the equaliser. He was sucked in toward Varane, granting Rodrigues the space to finish at the far post. He did exactly the same minutes later, but Rodrigues' scuffed effort bounced off the crossbar. Redeemed himself in the closing stages with a last-ditch tackle on David Zurutuza.
DF Raphael Varane, 7 -- Does not catch the eye like his partner in the heart of defence, but this was a crisp performance from the 24-year-old.
DF Sergio Ramos, 7 -- Ramos juggled the ball in the box, seeking to tee himself up for a second bicycle kick in as many matches. The ball didn't drop for him, alas, but it did drop to Mayoral to open the scoring. Ramos was at his gallivanting best in attack and marshalled the defence well.
DF Theo Hernandez, 7 -- Alvaro Odriozola struggled to deal with his steamroller approach. Could have won a penalty after 13 minutes, when Asier Illaramendi abruptly halted his surge into the box, yet the summer signing from Atletico was also lucky to avoid conceding a spot-kick in the early stages of the second half for some overzealous grappling with Xabi Prieto.
MF Luka Modric, 6 -- Gave Geronimo Rulli something to think about as he shot with a devilish combination of whip and dip just before half-time. An efficient performance from the Croatian, who played his part in stifling Asier Illaramendi, La Real's creative force.
MF Casemiro, 7 -- Saw his header at the far post well-saved by Rulli in the first half. With the inevitability of death and taxes, Casemiro was booked. His crime was an agricultural block on Carlos Vela.
MF Isco, 7 -- Took up Toni Kroos' role playing to the left of Casemiro, on paper at least. He fluttered around in the gaps in the Real Sociedad midfield and fed Gareth Bale a sumptuous weighted pass to score Madrid's third goal.
FW Gareth Bale, 7 -- Delivered a timely reminder of his explosiveness on the hour mark, as he latched on to Isco's through-ball to lift a dainty chip over the onrushing goalkeeper. There were shades of that run past Marc Bartra in the 2014 Copa del Rey final as he effortlessly outpaced Rodrigues. Ended the match playing in a more central position.
FW Borja Mayoral, 8 -- Scored a poacher's effort from deep inside the box on 19 minutes. Displayed his full repertoire of abilities to create the second goal: a shrewd nudge in the back of Diego Llorente on the halfway line, a galloping run to the box in which he topped 30km/h and a cool head to force the own goal.
FW Marco Asensio, 7 -- Clever movement from the smooth-legged man of the moment, who was given license to roam from his base on the left flank. Lashed a vicious shot into the bottom corner in the 82nd minute, but the linesman had already hoisted his flag.
FW Lucas Vazquez, NR -- The winger entered the fray with 15 minutes remaining to stretch the tiring home defence.
MF Dani Ceballos, NR -- Replaced Marco Asensio with four minutes remaining.
DF Nacho, NR -- Slotted in at left-back for the last few minutes after Theo Hernandez was forced off with a shoulder injury.