Saturday, April 23, 2011

Valencia 3-6 Real Madrid

When earlier in the week Unai Emery stated "I am more concerned about Real Madrid’s players who didn’t play in the Cup final," he surely didn’t expect to witness the schooling Valencia received by Real Madrid, who returned to Mestalla with a show of class and football. Higuain, Kaka, Benzema and Granero combined to trounce a Valencia side that fell victim to its own mistakes and the Whites’ tremendous superiority. What is even more impressive, only two starters from last Wednesday’s Copa final were in Mourinho’s eleven against Los Che.

Even with eleven players who haven’t traditionally been Mourinho’s starters this season, Real  Madrid played like angels. Kaka, Granero, Benzema and Higuain had their way with Valencia defenders who would have no answer to the ensuing onslaught. On 22’ Higuain put in a low pass across the entire box that Guaita failed to get a hand to. Benzema received it and patiently sent the ball into the left side of the goal. Only eight minutes later, Mathieu got between Higuian and the ball and blocked the Argentine from advancing, but he still managed to get a toe to it and send it to the back of the net. The goal sank Valencia. Then on 38’, Benzema started a run from the midfield with Kaka leading the way to distract two defenders. The Frenchman took the ball towards the top of the box, found Higuain on the right side and the Argentine curled it back across the grain for Kaka to flick into the net. Three minutes before the end of the first half, Granero found Kaka with a deep ball and the Brazilian returned the favor by finding Higuain alone in front of goal for the tap-in.

Valencia were much more aggressive after the restart, but it didn’t matter. Benzema got a ball to Kaka through traffic on 53’, the Brazilian advanced all the way to the byline, curled a low pass into the six-yard box and Higuain punched it into the back of the net to complete his hat-trick and put the Whites up 0-5. As fans began to leave the stadium, Valencia pulled one back when former Madridista, Roberto Soldado drove home a low cross by Jonas. But one minute later Real Madrid answered right back. Benzema found Kaka open at the top of the box after over-running a pass. The Brazilian nutmegged Stankevicius and curled the ball just beyond Guaita’s reach for the sixth of the afternoon.

With the game all but over, Xabi Alonso replaced Canales, Cristiano Ronaldo stepped in for Higuain and Pedro Leon took over for an exhausted Garay. The Whites slowed the pace and relaxed, while Valencia looked to cover up the blow out and did just that on 81’, when Mata left a ball for Jonas, who squeaked it between Casillas and the post. Then on 85’, Mata lobbed the ball over Albiol and Jordi Alba scored to make it 3-6.

Real Madrid played the final ten minutes with ten men after Nacho abandoned the pitch with muscle trouble, but the game drew to a close with no further incidents. The Whites can now begin preparing for the first leg of the Champions League semifinals scheduled for Wednesday at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Composition Players

: Vicente Guaita, Ricardo Costa, Marius Stankevicius, Jeremy Mathieu (Jordi Alba, 83 '), Miguel, Ever Banega, Hedwiges Maduro (Jonas, 59'), Mehmet Topal, Juan Mata, Pablo (Joaquin, 59 '), Roberto Soldado

Real Madrid : Iker Casillas, Ricardo Carvalho, Raúl Albiol, Nacho, Ezequiel Garay (Pedro Leon, 75 '), Esteban Granero, Lassana Diarra, Gonzalo Higuain (Cristiano Ronaldo, 67'), Kaká, Karim Benzema, Sergio Canales (Xabi Alonso, 62 ')

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