Madrid, Dec 9 (IANS) Real Madrid's German midfielder Mesut Ozil was vital as his side had to dig deep to win 3-2 away to a difficult Valladolid side in the Spanish Primera Liga.
Ozil scored his side's second goal just before the break and then curled home a pinpoint free kick with 18 minutes remaining to assure all three points, reports Xinhua.
Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho produced a slight surprise when he included B-team defender Nacho at left back for the injured Fabio Coentrao when most had expected Alvaro Arbeloa to move across to cover.
A frantic first half saw Valladolid twice take the lead through Manucho only for Real Madrid to peg them back both times.
Both of Manucho's goals came after Real Madrid failed to defend corners.
The big striker was able to turn home a loose ball from close range after eight minutes as Madrid failed to clear and his second came midway through the half after Sergio Ramos failed to defend him just three yards from goal.
However, on both occasions Real Madrid were able to draw level: Benzema cancelling out the first goal after a horrible defensive error from Mikel Balenziaga and Marc Valiente which left him with a simple tap in.
Ozil equalized on the stroke of halftime after a fine exchange of passes with Karim Benzema ended with him squeezing a low shot under home keeper Dani Hernandez.
Knowing that at 11 points from Barca his side had little option other than to win Mourinho replaced Nacho with Angel de Maria and later on Arbeloa with Luka Modric as the game became increasingly open.
His reward came when Benzema went down easily on the edge of the Valladolid area allowing Ozil to score with a well-directed free kick.