The 2019/20 season has largely been a write-off for Marco Asensio as he has missed the last 10 months of action due to a cruciate ligament knee injury.
It was a time for celebration for the young Spaniard and Real Madrid on Thursday though as he finally made his emotional return for Los Blancos - and in some style too as he came off the bench to score his first goal of the season as well as assist the third goal for Karim Benzema in the 3-0 victory.
With Real Madrid 1-0 up after Benzema scored the opener, Asensio was introduced to the action in the 74th minute. It took him less than a minute to make it 2-0 to the home side, as he held his position inside the box, screaming for the cutback from Ferland Mendy.
He got it, and swivelled his body to guide a gorgeous left-footed volley across goal into the far right corner.
Benzema would later steal the show with a goal of the season contender, flicking a touch over the defender’s head with one foot and volleying in with the other, but it came from an Asensio cross as the substitute earned an assist to complement his goal. He would receive a FootballCritic rating of 8.3 for his 16-minute outing.
Even though it was a relatively short cameo, Asensio was excellent, sending 100% of his shots on goal on target and touching the ball twice inside the Valencia penalty area.
He had a pass completion rate of 94% of balls sent to team-mates, with eight of those being sent into dangerous areas in the final third.
In a Real Madrid team which has been starved of creation in the final third this season, Asensio's return is a timely one as La Liga's title race looks set to go to the wire.