Real Madrid moved level on points with Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga after a 4-0 win over relegation-threatened Almeria.
A fantastic first-half performance – and goal – from Angel di Maria got the ball rolling and strikes from Gareth Bale, Isco and Alvaro Morata secured second-spot in the table following Barcelona’s 1-0 defeat at Granada CF.
Even though he was an injury doubt pre-match, Di Maria was in inspired form in a fairly pedestrian performance overall. The Argentina ace struck the crossbar after three minutes before peppering Esteban with a clutch of strikes early on.
It was only a matter of time before Di Maria found the net. The 26-year-old winger cut on to his left-foot at the corner of the box after 28 minutes, then curled home a spectacular shot to beat Esteban from 20 yards.
Real Madrid doubled their advantage through Bale just eight minutes after the restart.
After some good team play involving Karim Benzema and di Maria, Bale thundered the ball under the goalkeeper to take his tally to 19 for the season. Midfielder Isco would make it three goals to nil minutes later, coming inside and picking his moment to fire into the corner of the net.
The hosts found a fourth goal inside the last 10 minutes with substitute Alvaro Morata coming on to finish purposefully from close range – his sixth goal of the season – to end preparation for midweek’s Copa del Rey final with Barcelona on a high.
3’ – CROSSBAR – Argentine winger Di Maria slalomed from left-to-right and then struck the crossbar with a crushing left-foot shot, which Esteban managed to get the slightest of finger tips on to.
28’ – GOAL! – It’s all about Di Maria! The Real flanker cuts inwards on to his stronger left-foot again, bending the ball past Esteban into the far corner of the net.
53’ – GOAL! – After a quiet first-half, Bale explodes into life with a low drive under the goalkeeper. A great team goal from Real Madrid - inspired by Di Maria, Isco and Benzema.
56’ – GOAL! – Isco with the third. A typical trademark goal from the former Malaga player, weaving inside, deceiving defenders with his body movements, then lashing low-and-hard into the corner.
84’ – GOAL! – Substitute Alvaro Morata came off the bench to net his sixth of the season, beating Hans Martinez in the air, chesting down and volleying high into the roof of the net.
Welsh ace Gareth Bale has scored 19 goals this season for Real Madrid.
Real Madrid have won 100% of their La Liga matches against Almeria at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Talking Point: HOW WILL REAL COPE WITHOUT RONALDO? – How do you replace the best player in the world? Simple: there’s no need for Real to do that. It’s all about Carlo Ancelotti’s team keeping its functionality with the fleet-footed Angel di Maria, the ingenuity of Isco or the passing control of Luka Modric. Ancelotti will need di Maria to continue his excellent campaign, as well as Gareth Bale who can provide the same directness as Ronaldo. Real Madrid have won the six games he has missed to date, yet for a strong Champions League chance, Ronaldo’s return is important.
Man of the Match: Angel di Maria (Real Madrid) – He was a doubt going into this match after an injury in the pre-match warm-up, but went on to produce a blistering 45 minutes at the Bernabeu. He peppered Esteban’s goal with rasping shots, including his 28th minute goal and worked hard in other areas of his game.
Real Madrid: Diego López 6, Nacho 8, Pepe 6, Varane 7, Coentrao 7, Modric 6, Illarramendi 7, Di María 9, Isco 8, Bale 8, Benzema 8, Llorente 6, Morata 6
Almeria: Esteban 8, Nelson 6, Torsiglieri 6, Hans 6, Mané 6; Verza 6, Corona 7, Tébar 6, Barbosa 6, Zongo 7; Rodri 6; Vidal 5
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