Real Madrid secured a fourth successive La Liga victory as they overcame Alaves 3-0 at the Bernabeu on Sunday evening.
Karim Benzema opened the scoring for the home side after half an hour, tapping home following a pinpoint cross from the impressive Sergio Reguilon. Vinicius Junior doubled the advantage ten minutes from time with a composed finish, before a Mariano Diaz header in added time put some extra gloss on the result.
Los Blancos started the game on the front foot and forced Alaves goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco to make two smart stops in the opening 15 minutes, preventing Daniel Ceballos and Vinicius Junior from opening the scoring for Santiago Solari's side.
The continued pressure from Madrid eventually told as they broke the deadlock with half an hour played. Left back Reguilon made a surging run in-behind the Alaves defence before firing the ball across goal to an unmarked Benzema, who tapped home from a matter of yards to relieve the building tension within the Bernabeu.
Madrid nearly doubled their advantage two minutes into the second period after Gareth Bale collected a through-pass before firing a crisp strike across Pacheco, but the Spaniard was equal to it after he superbly stuck out a hand, keeping the arrears to just a solitary goal.
Los Blancos had to wait until the 80th minute to seal the victory after substitute Marco Asensio found some space in the Alaves box before picking out Vinicius Junior, and the Brazilian cooly slotted the ball home across the keeper to effectively wrap up the points.
Diaz added some extra gloss to the result in an added time after a wicked cross from Alvaro Odriozola was headed home by Diaz for his first La Liga goal of the season.
Key Talking Point
With Barcelona dropping points at home to Valencia on Saturday, as well as neighbours Atletico Madrid losing to Real Betis, there was a real opportunity for Los Blancos to gain some ground on their rivals. Alaves were never going to roll over though, they have exceeded all expectations this term and occupied the seventh place before Sunday's encounter.
Despite a bit of added pressure from those results, it was a thoroughly professional performance as Solari's side dominated proceedings. Madrid have looked shaky at home this season, but on Sunday their class shone through, particularly defensively. They limited Alaves to just one shot on target all game and in truth, were rarely threatened at the back on their way to three points.
Starting XI: Courtois (6), Odriozola (6), Ramos (7), Fernandez (6), Reguilon (7); Casemiro (6), Modric (6), Ceballos (5); Bale (5), Benzema (8*), Vinicius (8).
Substitutes: Asensio (6), Diaz (6), Isco (N/A).
STAR MAN - Karim Benzema
Benzema enjoyed another good night in front of goal for Madrid, scoring his fifth within a week, his strike came at a crucial time just as the home crowd were starting to get restless. The Frenchman receives his fair share of criticism, however if he continues to score freely the doubters will remain silent.
Benzema is on 🔥🔥— Gabì D0£ (@Gabi_Doe1) February 3, 2019
Benzema scores again. One of the most under appreciated strikers of his generation— Patron (@_GrandePatron) February 3, 2019
WORST PLAYER - Gareth Bale
It was a particularly difficult night for Bale. The Welshman was anonymous during the first half, seeing very little of the ball. He did start the second half well as he forced a good save from Pacheco, however, that was the last real impact Bale had on the game after being replaced by Asensio on the hour mark.
Gareth Bale infuriates me. He was such a good attacker at Tottenham. Always forced the issue and turned games by himself. Now he looks so nonchalant, so lackluster.— Umid Kumar Dey (@TehSeriousJoker) February 3, 2019
Bale is contributing nothing here— - (@LM19Futbol) February 3, 2019
Starting XI: Pacheco (6), Vigaray (5), Maripan (6), Laguardia (5), Duarte (6); Mubarak (5), Pina (6), Garcia (4); Burgui (6), Calleri (5), Rodriguez (5).
Substitutes: Rolan (5), Guidetti (5), Blanco (5).
Next up for Real Madrid is a crunch Copa Del Rey semi-final tie away at Barcelona on Wednesday, whilst they return to La Liga action on Saturday as they travel to neighbours Atletico Madrid in what could prove to be a decisive week for Solari's side.