Real Madrid brush aside high-flying Mallorca
Real Madrid 2-0 Mallorca
Real Madrid maintained their 100 per cent home record with an impressive 2-0 victory against high-flying Mallorca during a rare snowstorm in the Spanish capital on Sunday night.
Gonzalo Higuain scored the opener and created the second for Esteban Granero in a scoreline that failed to reflect Real’s dominance as they made it nine wins from nine at home.
The extreme conditions saw Real play against an unusual backdrop for the first time in 30 years at the Bernabeu, but it didn’t hamper their performance with Manuel Pellegrini’s side taking the lead after just eight minutes.
Xabi Alonso showed fantastic vision to hit a first time pass into the feet of Higuain. The deadly Argentine used Alvaro Arbeloa’s overlapping run as a decoy to cut inside and fire home an unstoppable left-foot strike into the top corner.
However, the visitors should have drawn level only moments later. A clever one-two resulted in a cross that was floated towards the far post for Gonzalo Castro to finish with the easiest of headers.
But the Uruguayan failed to hit the target and headed tamely wide just yards from goal in what was to be Mallorca’s only chance of the half as they sat back and afforded the Galacticos of Real plenty of time and space on the ball.
Kaka came close after picking up a loose ball and playing an incisive one-two with Ronaldo that saw the Brazilian advance into the 18-yard box before sending the ball over the angle of upright and bar as Mallorca’s Dudu Aouate rushed out to meet him.
Ronaldo should have doubled Real’s advantage shortly before the break after Arbeloa chipped the ball into him at the far post.
The world’s most expensive player controlled the ball exquisitely with his left foot before instantly volleying at goal with his right, but he dragged the attempt wide from just 12 yards.
The game should have been killed off by the home side within the first half but Los Blancos emerged from the interval in explosive fashion.
Within a minute of the restart, first-half substitute Granero appeared to be hacked down by Jose Marti inside the area but the referee ignored the midfielder’s appeals and allowed the game to continue.
Moments later, Higuain broke free from the offside trap to race clear following Alonso’s defence-splitting pass only to be brought to a halt by the assistant referee’s unjust flag.
A second goal from the home side was imminent and it came on 50 minutes after Higuain crossed the ball towards Granero at the far post.
The Madrid-born midfielder thumped the ball emphatically home with his left foot to send the scant and largely subdued crowd into raptures.
Another beautifully-weighted pass played by Alonso saw Ronaldo fire across goal and just wide of Aouate’s right-hand post on 54 minutes.
A minute later, Kaka met Ronaldo’s low cross but could only muster a tame effort straight into the goalkeeper’s arms.
The Brazilian was to turn provider shortly after and his driving run to the by-line resulted in a cut-back for Granero to hammer goalwards, but Aouate was a match to the strike and denied the Spaniard fantastically with a reflex save.
The goalkeeper was on hand to again deny Real after Kaka slid Higuain through on goal and managed to block the Argentine’s strike with an outstretched leg.
Auoate foiled Higuain for a second time moments later.
Ronaldo’s cross was flicked on and found the prolific striker in acres of space at the far post but a poor first touch allowed the goalkeeper to dive at his feet and palm the ball to safety.
Kaka - returning from a groin injury - was rested after 68 minutes and replaced by Karim Benzema.
The substitution saw Real lose their shape and rhythm with the French striker proving largely ineffective, but the home side did muster a final opportunity on 88 minutes.
Higuain again broke the offside trap - and, on this occasion, was ruled onside - to race to the by-line before cutting the ball back for Ronaldo to strike, despite Benzema being better-placed at the far post, but the Portuguese superstar couldn’t keep his effort down and blazed high over the bar.
The result saw Manuel Pellegrini’s side march temporarily to the top of La Liga before Barcelona restored their two-point lead with a 5-0 thrashing of Tenerife later that evening.
Real Madrid: Casillas, Arbeloa, Garay, Albiol, Marcelo, Gago, Alonso (Guti, 83), Kaka (Benzema, 69), Ronaldo, Van der Vaart (Granero, 21), Higuain
Mallorca: Auoate, Josemi, Ruben, Nunes, Ayoze, Marti (Casadesus, 84), Suarez, Valero, Alvarez (Keita, 57), Aduriz (Pezzolano, 77), Castro
Man of the Match: Xabi Alonso – Imperial in the centre of Real’s midfield and dictated the pace and flow of his side’s attacks.
The weekend’s other La Liga results:
Valladolid 0-4 Atletico Madrid
Sevilla 1-2 Racing Santander
Villarreal 1-1 Almeria
Deportivo 1-0 Osasuna
Espanyol 2-1 Zaragoza
Malaga 1-1 Athletic Bilbao
Sporting Gijon 1-0 Getafe
Xerez 1-3 Valencia
Tenerife 0-5 Barcelona