Cristiano Ronaldo’s two penalties inspired Real Madrid to get back to winning ways following their midweek loss, as they claimed three vital points in a 1-4 win against Villarreal at the Mestalla Stadium on Saturday.
Martin Montoya was Valencia’s main culprit as his two defensive mistakes virtually cost his side the game. He brought down Ronaldo for the first spot-kick – after a devastating Real counter-attack – before clattering into Karim Benzema for the second. Ronaldo was cool enough to beat Valencia keeper Neto from 12-yard out on each occasion.
The home side halved the deficit just before the hour mark as Santi Mina rose in the box to head Parejo’s deflected cross at goal, steering his effort beyond the reach of Navas into the bottom corner.
Marcelo and Toni Kroos put the game beyond doubt in the dying minutes when their goals put Real into an unassailable 4-1 lead.
Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane came into this game knowing he was under intense scrutiny after his side crashed out of the Copa del Rey to Leganes.
They came into the game in fourth place in the Primera División, five points behind opponents Valencia and a further 19 points (with a game in hand) behind leaders Barcelona.
The first ten minutes of the game were tense exchanges and there were signs of nervousness in Los Blancos’ play as Valencia looked assured in possession. Valencia’s set up looked as though they were the away side, as they sat deep, looking to counteract and press Madrid’s potency with their attacking front three.
Real should have taken the lead when they had the first clear-cut chance of the game when Garay clattered into his goalkeeper Neto as he attempted to clear a cross into the box, Bale found the ball fall to his feet and he drilled a strike which was smartly saved by Neto.
Just minutes later Madrid were awarded a penalty after a devastating box-to-box counter attack, which came from a Valencia corner, Ronaldo was fouled by Montoya in the box following a nice passing exchange between Marcelo and Karim Benzema.
Ronaldo stepped up and held his nerve from 12 yards, as he slotted calmly to the keepers left, sending Neto the wrong way. Real were rewarded for their clinical counter.
Valencia seemed to have grown in confidence since falling behind, however, their continuous pressure on the Real goal wasn’t much to savour.
Instead, it was Los Blancos who doubled their lead seven minutes before half-time as Ronaldo scored his second penalty of the game. The penalty came when Martin Montoya clattered into the back of Karim Benzema as he went up for a header in the box. Ronaldo dispatched – this time to the goalkeeper’s right.
A brace from the penalty spot from Cristiano Ronaldo handed Real Madrid a 2-0 lead at the break, although the scoreline was not a fair reflection of the match as Valencia have been active in the final third, but just couldn’t find that vital breakthrough.
The hosts came out with a bit between their teeth as they followed the incentive that Madrid hadn’t won at their ground since 2013. They were finally rewarded for their efforts before the hour when Santi Mina got up well to head in from Parejo’s corner, steering his effort beyond the reach of Navas.
The noise levels in the Mestalla grew as Valencia upped the ante in the final third, constantly putting pressure on the Real defence.
However, it was Madrid left-back Marcelo who put the game to bed when the Brazilian played a one-two with Marco Asensio down the left before sliding his shot under Neto.
Toni Kroos decided to rub salt into the Valencia wounds as the German drilled a low effort into the bottom corner, leaving Neto with no chance.
Real Madrid remain fourth in La Liga but move just two points behind Valencia. The result may not change their league position, but it certainly eases a bit of pressure off Zidane after the dominant display at the Mestalla.