Goals from Angel Di Maria, Gareth Bale, Isco and Alvaro Morata gave Real Madrid an easy 4-0 win over Almeria, that took them joint top of La Liga.
Cristiano Ronaldo was, as expected, left out for the match after suffering a knee injury, as Isco came into the attack. Nacho was also brought in to replace Dani Carvajal, whilst Di Maria was pushed back into the midfield after a disappointing attacking performance against Borussia Dortmund in the week.
But the Argentine winger was the first to get in on the action, sauntering forward to within range of Esteban’s goal, before firing a bullet of a shot. The former Benfica man though, watched as the ball cannoned off the crossbar after only five minutes.
Los Blancos had come out of the traps in the quickest of fashions, and had two more superb chances to take the lead. First, Di Maria, again, forced Esteban into another save after a shot from 25 yards. And then a cross from Bale found Karim Benzema, but the French striker could only fire over from close-range.
It was the Welshman who had the best chance though, wasting a golden opportunity on 23 minutes. The world’s most expensive player cut in from the right, jinked past Nelson and then fired a shot straight at Esteban from 12 yards out.
All the pressure however eventually told, as Di Maria took the ball on the right-hand side, cut into the area, and curled a delightful effort past the goalkeeper for the opener.
It really was the Di Maria show by now, and with the 25-year-old playing with obvious confidence, it was perhaps no surprise that the Albiceleste international attempted the sublime near the end of the half, trying to score directly from a corner when he saw the goalkeeper drifting towards the six yard line. Luckily for the visitors though, Esteban got back just in time to tip the ball over the bar and stop what would have been a wonderful goal.
After the break, Carlo Ancelotti’s men continued to push for the second goal that would kill off the game, but the Juegos Mediterraneos outfit were standing firm at the back, trying to keep themselves within touching distance. Both Isco and Luka Modric went close, but the flying blocks of Marco Torsiglieri and Hans Martinez meant that the score stay at 1-0.
It didn’t stay that way for long though, as the class of Madrid eventually told. A pass from Benzema found Bale on the edge of the area, and the former Spurs man blasted a low shot past the out-stretched goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
The away side were shot, and with their heads gone it wasn’t long before the capital club made their lead unassailable on the hour mark. A cross from the right found Isco at the far post, who turned before beating Esteban at his near post with a neat finish.
A host of substitutions took the sting out of the game as Almeria looked to ensure a damage limitation operation. But that didn’t work, as with five minutes to go Morata casually ran in on goal, and coolly chipped the ball over the goalkeeper to ensure a comfortable win for Real Madrid
Real Madrid 4-0 Almeria
Scorers: Di Maria 29 (RM), Bale 53 (RM), Isco 57 (RM), Morata 85 (RM)
Real Madrid: Diego López, Nacho, Pepe, Varane, Coentrao (Llorente 73), Modric, Illarramendi, Di María (Casemiro 64), Isco, Bale (Morata 70), Benzema.
Almeria: Esteban, Nelson, Torsiglieri, Hans, Mané; Verza, Corona (Soriano 72), Tébar, Barbosa, Zongo (Oscar Diaz 69); Rodri (Vidal 57)