Goals from Karim Benzema, Lucas Vazquez and Luka Modric saw Real Madrid overcome a strong Villarreal side with relative ease to stay in touch with league leaders Barcelona and second-placed Atletico Madrid. 

 

Barcelona sent a message to the other title contenders after a shock run of results with a resounding 8-0 away victory over Deportivo La Coruna. That win put Barcelona level on points with Atletico, who triumphed in a tricky fixture away from home against Athletic Bilbao. Now, with Real Madrid’s victory, Zinedine Zidane’s men are once again just one point behind the league leaders.

Karim Benzema put the home team in front in the 41st minute as he headed home his 27th goal of the season. He is only a goal shy of Lionel Messi and 7 behind top goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo in the La Liga scoring stakes.

Benzema then turned provider in the 69th minute for Lucas Vazquez, who put Real 2 goals up. Vazquez was given a start by Zidane due to the absence of Gareth Bale. Modric put the game beyond the visitors in the 76th minute with an exceptional volley from a Danilo cross.

Player Ratings

Real Madrid

Navas – 6/10. Didn’t have much to do. Commanded his area well and was quick off his line to thwart potential attacks. Overall, a quiet game, but did well when called into action.

Marcelo – 7/10. Had a good game, showed his quick feet and skills, always a danger on the overlap. Provided quality link up play with Benzema and Ronaldo.

Varane – 7/10. Had a good outing as he kept the Villarreal attack at bay. Won headers in his own half and was a constant menace during set pieces in the opposition penalty box.

Ramos – 6.5/10. Like his partner, wasn’t tested enough by the Villarreal attack, but when needed, stood equal to the task. Made a couple of early interventions to deny the Yellow Submarine from counter attacks.

Danilo – 6.5/10. Had a mixed game — at times, lost his focus and concentration. Lacked composure a few times when in possession, but provided an important assist for Luka Modric to volley home Real’s 3rd goal.

Kroos – 6.5/10. Didn’t attack the opposition final third as he often does. Instead linked his teammates up and distributed the ball from one side of the field to the other.

Modric – 8/10. Showed plenty of energy running up and down the midfield and was able to put together his signature long passes. Rammed home a tremendous volley for Madrid’s final goal to put the game to rest.

FC BARCELONA VS REAL MADRID

Casemiro – 7.5/10. Providing depth in midfield and held play up when needed. It was a performance that showed why the Brazilian has maintained a constant presence in the starting lineup this season.

Benzema – 9/10. Provided his team with one goal and another assist for the young Vazquez. Was a constant threat in the area, often leaving defenders flummoxed with his clever movement.

Vazquez – 8/10. Was a successful outing for the Spaniard as he got his name on the score sheet. Linked up well with his fellow attackers.

Ronaldo – 7/10. Got some half chances in the first half and had a few shots on target. Left the match with an injury, although Zidane said after the match that it wasn’t serious.

Villarreal

Asenjo – 4/10. Could have done better to parry the ball that led to the first goal and was beaten at his near post for the second goal as well. Overall not his best performance in Villarreal colours.

Bertrand – 7/10. His side conceded 3 goals despite Bertrand having a good game. He kept Benzema and Ronaldo at bay constantly throughout the first half. Real’s pressure however finally got the best of him.

Rukavina – 4/10. Had an unconvincing evening at left-back, gave the ball away too often, was poor in possession, couldn’t link up properly with the front men and didn’t offer much depth in attack. Did put in a few good crosses, but it was a poor performance from the defender.

Bonera – 6/10 – The Italian had a decent game, made a fantastic Nesta-esque tackle to deny Ronaldo what looked to be a sure goal. But ultimately he was not equal to the threat posed by Real’s attack.

Gasper – 5/10. Held his own at times but there was very little he could do with Ronaldo and Benzema testing him throughout.

REAL SOCIEDAD VS VILLARREAL

Dos Santos – 5/10. Hard work never really paid off despite being everywhere on the pitch at times. He was full of running and helped his defence out, but offered very little in attack.

Denis Suarez – 5/10. The youngster from La Masia is very highly rated in Spain, but did not have the best match despite testing the Real goalkeeper with some long range efforts.

Bruno – 6/10. Held the midfield together, kept things tight, linked well with his teammates and was quick to snuff out attacks whenever he could.

Trigueros – 4/10. A non-entity throughout the match, picked up a early booking.

Adrian – 4/10. Offered very little attacking threat and even when he did, it was easily dealt with by Real defenders. Hold up play is not excellent and was often found losing possession.

Bakambu – 5/10. Fared a little better than his strike partner, although the end product was the same.

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