January 20, 2013
Five-star Real thrash Valencia
#INSERT type:image caption:Ronaldo celebrates yet another brace END#Real Madrid took out their pent-up Primera Division frustrations on sorry Valencia tonight with a stunning first-half display en route to a comprehensive victory at the Mestalla.
Gonzalo Higuain opened the scoring early on and then Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria helped themselves to braces during a devastating 11-minute spell just before half-time as Madrid, who beat the same opponents in the Copa del Rey in midweek, ran amok.
Valencia battled back after the break and had a number of chances to pull a goal back but Madrid's defence, with Iker Casillas selected ahead of Antonio Adan in goal, held firm to complete a great night for Jose Mourinho's men, who moved back to within 15 points of leaders Barcelona.
Madrid and Mourinho have found themselves under increasing pressure, with their title defence already looking in tatters by the midway stage of the season.
However, the capital club, no doubt buoyed by Barca's surprise defeat to Real Sociedad last night, answered a few of their critics tonight.
Higuain missed a glorious chance to open the scoring in the eighth minute when he side-footed Alvaro Arbeloa's cross wide but the Argentinian made no mistake 60 seconds later, slotting in Di Maria's cutback following a rapid counter-attack to make it 1-0.
Sami Khedira twice came close to increasing Madrid's lead around the half-hour mark but was denied both times by vital saves from Diego Alves.
Alves could do nothing as Madrid did make it 2-0 in the 34th minute though, Ronaldo turning Ricardo Costa inside out before sending over a low cross that the unmarked Di Maria tapped home at the far post.
Madrid were rampant and straight from the kick-off they regained possession, allowing Ronaldo to scamper free from the halfway line and drill a low shot past Alves at his near post.
It was 4-0 in the 41st minute when Di Maria's cross to the far post was knocked back by Ozil to Ronaldo, who thrashed home his second of the night.
Madrid were not finished there either, and on the stroke of half-time Di Maria added his second after being put through by Ozil and coolly slotting past Alves.
Valencia's fans voiced their anger as the teams left the pitch at the break, but they will have taken some consolation from their side's performance in the second half, even if it did not result in any goals.
Pablo Piatti struck the crossbar, Adil Rami saw a header cleared off the line and Tino Costa twice went close with volleys for the hosts.
Madrid were not without their chances either, though, and Ronaldo really should have netted his hat-trick four minutes from the end only to side-foot Luka Modric's cross wide from close range.
Mourinho's men return to the Mestalla on Wednesday, when they will look to defend a 2-0 lead in the second leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final against Los Che.