Cristiano Ronaldo scored on his return as Real Madrid survived a late Osasuna show to win 5-2 and secure a joint-record 15th straight victory in La Liga.
Ronaldo was back in his spiritual home of the left wing as Danilo, Nacho Fernandez, Pepe and Mateo Kovacic all came in for Dani Carvajal, Marcelo, Raphael Varane and Casemiro, while Alvaro Morata kept his place in attack, despite Karim Benzema being named a substitute.
The Portuguese needed just six minutes to find the back of Osasuna’s net as Gareth Bale looked to be just onside when he ran onto a dinked through ball and sprang the new boys’ offside trap, before squaring towards the far post for the No 7 to tap home.
Osasuna goalkeeper Nauzet Perez endured a nightmare between the sticks, starting with his failure to hold onto Alvaro Morata’s cutback, the rebound to which Toni Kroos could only slice high and wide. The striker then slipped Gareth Bale through for a certain goal, but his first touch was too heavy and Osasuna could clear off the line.
The new boys, however, were by no means out of the game and could’ve equalised through David Garcia, who crashed a header against the crossbar, although they were quickly punished by Danilo, the right-back angling the rebound home after Nauzet Perez parried Morata’s cutback.
It then went from bad to worse for the Pamplonans as Sergio Ramos became the active defender with most goals (28) than any other defender in Europe’s top-five Leagues as he sent a towering header past Nauzet from a corner on the cusp of half-time.
The referee – somewhat controversially – pulled play back for the penalty, which Romero missed as Casilla guessed correctly to his right, but Garcia looped a terrific header over Casilla from the substitute’s cross just seconds later.
Sadly for Osasuna, though, the comeback was never realised. Tano Bonnin was sent off for two bookable offences to leave his side a man down for the final 10 minutes – in stark contrast to Kroos, whose two assists and pass-completion rate of 93 percent earned him the man-of-the-match award.
Benzema had two chances to possibly net Madrid’s sixth and seventh goal as the striker left the Osasuna defence in its wake and rounded Nauzet but saw his finish clip the post, before he hit the bar from a header.