Real Madrid will head into the November international break one point off the top of La Liga after thrashing Valencia 5-1 on Saturday night.
Los Blancos moved to within two points of table-toppers Girona with a fine result and performance to boot at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side returned to their ruthless best despite missing Jude Bellingham, who sat out the game with a shoulder injury.
How the game unfolded
With just over two minutes on the clock, Real Madrid broke the deadlock. Toni Kroos’ long switch of play was brought down expertly by Dani Carvajal, who was afforded extra time to control the ball due to a slip from Jose Gaya, and the right-back lashed in a half-volley with his weaker left foot at the near post from the edge of the box.
Kroos went close to adding a goal of his own minutes later when his free-kick from 20 yards cannoned back off the crossbar.
Valencia were causing problems in the Real Madrid box, too. Hugo Duro found space to turn and fire at goal from six yards out, forcing a low save out of Andriy Lunin.
Duro again spurned a great chance to equalise when he raced beyond Carvajal to meet a through ball from Sergi Canos, but Lunin again stood tall to keep the hosts ahead.
Straight down the other end, Vinicius Junior twice went close to doubling Real Madrid’s lead, dancing his way into the box from the wing before seeing his shot deflected wide off of Gabriel Paulista. From the resulting corner, he fired into the side netting after Valencia were caught napping.
Valencia continued to ask question of Real Madrid. A deep cross from Pepelu following a short corner routine again found Duro, but again he failed to find the net, heading narrowly wide at the back post.
Within seconds of that chance, Real Madrid made Valencia pay and added their second. A whipped cross from Rodrygo was too quick for Vinicius to stoop down and get his head on, but he did get low enough to direct the ball into the bottom corner with his chest.
Just after the second half started, Vinicius added the hosts’ third. Gabriel cheaply gave the ball away when stepping into midfield, with his loose pass pounced upon by Rodrygo. He played through Vinicius, who cut inside from the left and let fly, finding the net with a fierce shot at the near post.
Valencia conceded a fourth essentially straight from kick-off. Goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili passed straight to Rodrygo on the edge of the box, and the Brazilian was able to slot home from point-blank range.
Carvajal was unlucky not to grab a brace when he looked to slide the ball in at Mamardashvili’s near post with a cleverly-disguised shot, but the Georgian stuck out a toe to deny him.
Real Madrid did eventually grab a fifth in the late stages. Fran Garcia set though Rodrygo down the left channel, twisting and tuning away from compatriot Gabriel before firing past Mamardashvili.
Valencia grabbed a consolation with minutes remaining as Duro finally got onto the scoresheet, striding beyond Nacho Fernandez to convert Hugo Gonzalez’s cross.
GK: Andriy Lunin – 7/10 – Made some crucial saves in the first half to prevent Valencia from taking the lead and equalising. Proving to be a reliable third-choice goalkeeper in the absence on Thibaut Courtois and Kepa Arrizabalaga.
RB: Dani Carvajal – 8/10 – Kicked off proceedings with a well-taken finish. Given some bother by Canos early on but recovered well when Real Madrid ran away with the game.
CB: Nacho Fernandez – 5/10 – Given real trouble by Duro and was punished in the end by allowing him to score the consolation. Again a beneficiary of the hosts’ ruthlessness at the other end.
CB: David Alaba – 6/10 – Likewise found it hard to withstand Valencia’s attacks, but was at least a decent contributor playing from the back.
LB: Ferland Mendy – 6/10 – Played on the fringes in attack and wasn’t exactly a steady defender.
DM: Eduardo Camavinga – 8/10 – Initially found it hard to cope with Valencia’s quick transitions but grew into the game and brought fans to their feet with some wonderful marauding with the ball at his feet.
CM: Federico Valverde – 7/10 – Full of energy and aggression, though Real Madrid did not need him to play a starring role.
CM: Toni Kroos – 7/10 – Still got it. Kept hold of the ball so well and distributed it effortlessly, picking out Carvajal with a superb pass for the opening goal.
AM: Brahim Diaz – 6/10 – Didn’t get involved enough to stake a claim for more minutes with Jude Bellingham missing due to injury.
CF: Rodrygo – 9/10 – A joy to watch. Pulled Valencia to-and-fro with his excellent movement and pace, getting his just rewards with two goals of his own.
CF: Vinicius Junior – 9/10 – Slowly adjusting to life as a more central option, though most of his best work did involve starting from wide and then coming into the space he vacated. His first goal was typical centre-forward play stretching to meet Rodrygo’s cross by any means possible.
SUB: Luka Modric (60′ for Valverde) – 7/10
SUB: Fran Garcia (71′ for Mendy) – 7/10
SUB: Lucas Vazquez (71′ for Brahim) – 6/10
SUB: Joselu (82′ for Vinicius) – N/A
SUB: Nico Paz (82′ for Carvajal) – N/A
Subs not used: Diego Pineiro (GK), Fran Gonzalez (GK), Lucas Vazquez, Fran Garcia, Edgar Pujol
Carlo Ancelotti – 8/10 – Real Madrid overcame their defensive frailties and blew Valencia away with a performance worthy of the badge.