Real Madrid put the humiliation of their Copa del Rey exit to Alcoyano behind them with an impressive 4-1 victory over Alaves on Saturday evening.
The visitors took the lead on 15 minutes, when Casemiro powered home a downward header from a pinpoint Toni Kroos corner. Los Blancos extended their advantage with a quick-fire double before the half-time whistle, first through a glorious Karim Benzema strike inside the box before Eden Hazard brought the ball down and clipped home from another delicious Kroos ball.
Alaves dared to dream of a dramatic comeback in the second half and they got off to a good start when Joselu fired a bullet header beyond Thibaut Courtois in the Madrid net. But the reigning champions reinstated their three-goal lead with 20 minutes to play when Benzema rounded off a mazy run with a typically ruthless finish into the far corner.
The victory leaves Zinedine Zidane’s man four points behind Atletico Madrid in the title race, although the leaders do hold two games in hand over Los Merengues.
Let’s check out the player ratings from an exciting evening in La Liga.
Thibaut Courtois (GK) – 7/10 – Had absolutely no chance in stopping Joselu’s bullet header. Remained composed throughout and kept his concentration in the trickier moments.
Lucas Vazquez (RB) – 8/10 – Didn’t play in his best position, so all the more credit should go to Vazquez for an energetic and diligent performance. Calm in defence and dangerous in attack.
Eder Militao (CB) – 7/10 – Followed Varane’s example, defending on the front foot and using his pace to prevent any counter-attacks. Back in the team and full of confidence.
Raphael Varane (CB) – 8/10 – Usually misses Sergio Ramos when he’s not alongside him, but the Frenchman guided Madrid’s inexperienced defence well. A decent display.
Ferland Mendy (LB) – 7/10 – Almost produced a wonderful assist in the first half, breaking the offside trap and squaring to Benzema, but his ball was defended excellently. Solid at the back, too.
Toni Kroos (CM) – 9/10 – Produced two wonderful assists, but the lofted pass to Hazard was the pick of the bunch. Absolutely imperious in the midfield.
Casemiro (CM) – 8/10 – When Madrid are heading towards crisis, Casemiro steers them to calmer waters. A big reaction was needed on Saturday, and he got the ball rolling with his unstoppable header. A superb player.
Luka Modric (CM) – 8/10 – A joy to watch, as always. Opened up the pitch and spread play with some raking diagonal passes, constantly finding teammates in advanced positions. Did the simple things easily, and the more complicated actions equally as efficiently.
Marco Asensio (RW) – 7/10 – Had the least impact of the three forwards, but always looked to get involved and link up with his teammates.
Karim Benzema (ST) – 8/10 – Hit the post early on, but atoned for his miss with two sublime finishes – the first was a real work of art. Put him in scoring positions, and he will hit the net.
Eden Hazard (LW) – 9/10 – Wonderful display from the Belgian forward. Awarded the assist for the second goal, feigning to control the ball before dummying and producing a deft flick into Benzema’s path. Got on the scoresheet with a beautiful piece of control and an equally calm finish.
Vinicius Jr (LW) – 7/10
Isco (CM) – 6/10
Alvaro Odriozola (RW) – 6/10