La Liga: Flawless Real Madrid spank lacklustre Valencia
Valencia: Real Madrid were in imperious form as they brushed aside a lacklustre Valencia side to charge to an extremely impressive 5-0 win at Mestalla.
Following Barcelona`s defeat on Saturday, Jose Mourinho`s side took their chance to close the gap emphatically as five first-half goals saw them breeze past los Che.
Gonzalo Higuain opened the scoring in the ninth minute before Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo widened the gap with two goals in quick succession.
Another two strikes in four minutes before the break, Ronaldo adding his second before Di Maria matched him, secured all three points in a dominant display.
Valencia started the game brightly but it was to the visitors that the first chance fell, and it was one that really should have been put away. Alvaro Arbeloa`s pinpoint cross picked out Higuain, but the Argentine failed to hit the target from 10 yards out after seven minutes.
But two minutes later Higuain did not make the same mistake, expertly firing the ball into the back of the net from Di Maria`s cutback, finishing off a brilliant counterattack.
After a high-tempo start the game descended into a relatively scrappy affair in which neither side could develop a stranglehold on possession.
That all changed soon enough, though, as los Blancos bagged four more goals before the break in a flurry of action.
Firstly, Mesut Ozil set Ronaldo through on the left and the Portuguese turned Ricardo Costa inside-out before drilling the ball across the goalmouth for Di Maria to add a simple finish at the back post.
Two minutes later Madrid found the net again, but this time Ronaldo went it alone. There was little Victor Ruiz could do to stop the powerful forward from latching onto Fabio Coentrao`s through-ball, shifting the ball onto his left foot, and slamming an effort in at the near post.
Four minutes before the break the visitors grabbed their fourth as Di Maria`s cross was laid off with an exquisite touch from Ozil and Ronaldo rifled in an emphatic cross-goal finish.
Yet there was still time for another and Ozil was again the creator, spotting Di Maria`s surging forward run and picking him out, enabling the Argentine to slot comfortably past Alves when one-on-one.
A small number of fans made for the exit before the break but there were signs of life from Valencia in the second half.
Pablo Piatti rattled the bar with a quality left-foot shot that had the beating of Casillas before Adil Rami`s header was cleared off the line by Coentrao in the 52nd minute.
Ernesto Valverde`s men continued to create opportunities to save some face, but Tino Costa and Jonas were both unable to really worry the keeper with a pair of efforts each.
Thus Madrid were able to cruise for the rest of the game, safe in the knowledge that they had cut the gap to league leaders Barcelona to 15 points. Valencia will not have to wait long to try and gain their revenge as the pair meet again in the Copa del Rey in midweek, though they will need to improve vastly.