Cristiano Ronaldo got a brace as Real Madrid cruised to an easy victory against Valencia at the Mestalla Stadium.
This victory takes Real Madrid’s tally for the season to 38 for the season. They have now moved to within two points of Valencia who are still third, but they have a game in hand. They are still only a point ahead of Villarreal, who are fifth on the table.
Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring in the 16th minute and doubled his side’s tally for the night 22 minutes later. Santi Mina halved the deficit in the 58th minute, but that would prove to be a mere consolation as Marcelo and Toni Kroos scored within 5 minutes of each other to seal the 3 points for Madrid.
Keylor Navas: 7.5
One of his more busier days in a Real Madrid shirt, the Costa Rican made three major saves to keep Real Madrid in the game. Had it not been for the saves, Zidane’s men would’ve found it much harder to seal such a victory.
Dani Carvajal: 7.5
Went about his business well. Couldn’t go forward as much as he would’ve liked as he was kept occupied by Gaya on his wing. Did well however, and didn’t allow his influence to grow in the game. Was booked, and that was the only blemish in an otherwise good performance.
Raphael Varane: 7.5
Did well to keep Rodrigo Moreno and Santi Mina as quiet as possible over the course of the game. Cut a resolute figure alongside Nacho, but could do nothing to prevent the goal. A decent performance from the Frenchman.
Nacho Fernandez: 6.5
Was at fault for the first goal, Santi Mina seemed to have gotten the better of him a bit too easily. Besides that one instance however, he had a solid game in the heart of Real’s defence.
Made a nice run and combined wonderfully with Marco Asensio to score Real’s third of the night. The Brazilian is slowly but steadily getting back to his very best form. Kept marauding down the wings and gave Valencia’s right wing a torrid time. One of his finest performances this season.
Toni Kroos: 8.5
The German international ran the show from midfield. Distributed superbly from midfield and was his side’s most prolific passer. Made a number of key recoveries and to top things off, scored a brilliant goal from distance. A top class performance from one of the best in the business.
Casemiro was at his typical best on the night. Made a number of key recoveries and interceptions, and completed more tackles than anyone else on the pitch. Ensured that Real had most of the possession and played a key role in helping his side transition from defence to attack.
Luka Modric: 7.5
Helped his side control the midfield and maintain possession. Worked hard both going forward and defensively, making some key tackles, interceptions and fearlessly took on a number of players. All in all, a fantastic, all round outing from the diminutive Croatian.
Gareth Bale: 6
Couldn’t capitalize on a wonderful chance and later, was booked for dissent. Not the best day at the office for the Welshman. He did look threatening at times, but couldn’t punish the home side as he would’ve liked. Subbed off with around 20 minutes to go.
Karim Benzema: 6
The Frenchman did well to win the penalty for Ronaldo to score his second just before the break, but that remained his only major contribution to his side’s cause. Couldn’t involve himself a lot in the second half and seemed isolated. Was frustrated as he was subbed off with just over 10 minutes to go.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 8.5
Two penalties, two superb finishes and his second consecutive brace in as many La Liga games. This tales his tally for 8 in the league and 20 for the season. One can only imagine what it must mean for the Portuguese superstar, who is going through a difficult spell.
Those were the 100th and 101st penalties of his professional career and they were scored with a level of conviction that has been largely absent from the 32-year-old’s game this campaign. He constantly tired to be in the thick of things and cause trouble for the defenders and worked hard.
His desire was rewarded when he won the first penalty. Could have added more to his tally on the night, but at this point he’ll probably take what he gets. Confidence is slowly, but steadily growing and it will be interesting to see how he season moves forward from this point.
Lucas Vazquez: 6
Came on for Gareth Bale on the right and worked hard by keeping the defenders busy. Kept trying to make a nuisance of himself and be involved as much as possible, but couldn’t contribute with a goal or assist.
Marco Asensio: 7.5
Asensio was brought on for Karim Benzema in the 78th minute and moved onto the left wing, pushing Cristiano Ronaldo into a more central position. The young Spaniard provided an injection of pace and had some good touches on the ball. Combined wonderfully with Marcelo to set him up for Real’s third of the night.
Mateo Kovacic: 7
The Croatian came on with a mere 2 minutes to spare, with the score at 1-3. He barely saw any of the ball but still managed to provide Toni Kroos with the assist with a cool back heel.