Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, Dani Carvajal, Alvaro Morata and a Gareth Bale double ensured that Real Madrid beat Rayo Vallecano 5-0 on Saturday.
Los Blancos were looking to avoid a third straight defeat after losses to Barcelona and Sevilla in the past week had seen them slipped to third in the table. And they had to do so without, arguably, their player of the season so far Luka Modric, who was sidelined with flu – Angel Di Maria came in to replace the Croatian.
Paco Jemez’s men meanwhile, came into the match having been on a campaign-defining run of four wins in their last five – moving from relegation battlers to mid-table safety within the space of a month.
But that confidence wasn’t on show in the opening exchanges as Carlo Ancelotti’s men came out quickly from the blocks. The front three’s movement was causing some problems, and within three minutes Karim Benzema was laid in on goal – the French striker however, blasted his effort straight at Ruben.
The Franjirrojos recovered from their hesitant start though, and slowly built up a head of steam – getting the ball down and trying to find gaps in the home team’s defence. They though, weren’t forthcoming and the visitors were forced into long-range efforts.
The normal balance was soon restored however, as on 15 minutes a run from Bale on the right eventually teed up Ronaldo, who powered his way into the area and slotted a finish past the goalkeeper.
The hosts were now pushing for a second, and it almost came midway through the half when Di Maria laid in Benzema for what looked like a sure-fire goal. The former Lyon man though, stumbled from four yards out and watched as the ball went wide.
After the break, the away side’s typical swashbuckling style was still at the fore, as they looked to find an equaliser at Santiago Bernabeu. Once again though, Madrid’s defence was holding steady – and when that looked shaky, Diego Lopez was there to stand firm.
And that defensive solidity was the foundation for a second Blancos goal on 54 minutes. Bale stole the ball on the right-hand side before pulling back to Ronaldo, who laid off to Carvajal, and the right-back stroked home from inside the area for his first goal of the season.
The game was becoming stretched at this point, and the hosts’ obvious class eventually told midway through the second 45, as a quick break down the left saw Di Maria in on goal, but the Argentine winger opted to square to Bale, who tapped into an empty net.
Rayo’s legs were tiring, and that showed on 70 minutes when Bale ran from midway inside his own half, sprinted past four defenders, and eventually slotted a finish past the goalkeeper to make it 4-0.
Ancelotti’s men weren’t finished there though, as a trio of substitutions injected some more intensity into the team. And one of those subs, Morata, netted a fifth late on – turning on the edge of the area, the youngster curled a shot round Ruben and into the top right-hand corner.
Real Madrid 5-0 Rayo Vallecano
Scorers: Ronaldo 15 (RM), Carvajal 54 (RM), Bale 68, 70 (RM), Morata 78 (RM)
Real Madrid: Diego Lopez; Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Coentrao; Alonso, Di Maria (Casemiro 70), Illarra (Isco 62); Benzema (Morata 74), Bale, Ronaldo
Rayo Vallecano: Rubén, Arbilla, Zé, Borja, Rat, Saúl, Trashorras, Falque, Rochina (Jose Carlos 25), Bueno (Viera 59), Larrivey (Longo 70)