IANS

Real Madrid beat Valencia to move into fifth place

Madrid, Dec 2 (IANS) Real Madrid scored early during a dominant first half and then added an insurance goal in the closing minutes for a 2-0 win over Valencia, which was a much tougher opponent after the intermission.

The visitors got off to an inauspicious start at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium when defender Daniel Wass inadvertently sent the ball into his own net in the eighth minute while trying to head away a cross by Dani Carvajal, reports Efe.

Real Madrid became even more voracious after that opening goal, while Valencia appeared outclassed as it repeatedly lost the ball shortly after gaining possession.

The hosts could have taken a 2-0 lead into halftime, but Brazilian goalkeeper Neto did well to save a close range shot by Gareth Bale.

The complexion of the match changed after halftime. Valencia nearly scored the equaliser in the 54th minute when Santi Mina expertly gathered an exquisite pass from Dani Parejo but then sent a shot on the run over the crossbar.

Thirteen minutes later, Brazilian defender Gabriel Paulista had a golden chance to draw his side level when a free kick set him up for a volley that he sent just wide off the post.

With those chances having come and gone, Real Madrid started creating danger on the counter-attack.

Although second-half substitute Marco Asensio squandered one opportunity in the 76th minute, Lucas Vazquez was able to finish off a move set up by Carvajal and Karim Benzema in the 83rd minute.

Sandwiched between those two moves, Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois made an outstanding save to deny Valencia striker Michy Batshuayi.

Real Madrid has now racked up six victories in seven games across all competitions since Santiago Solari took over as head coach in late October.

They are fifth in the Spanish league with 23 points after having fallen to as low as ninth with their crushing 1-5 loss to Barcelona on October 28, a defeat that cost then head coach Julen Lopetegui his job.

Real Madrid is now just three points behind top placed Sevilla (26 points). Valencia is at the 13th place with 17 points.

–IANS
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