Real Madrid moved level on points at the top of La Liga with an emphatic 5-0 victory over the Primera Division’s bottom club Real Betis at the Estadio Benito Villamarin. The match was all over as a contest by the break after fine goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale and another from the third member of Madrid’s attacking trio Karim Benzema. Angel di Maria and substitute Alvaro Morata then hammered home the visitors’ advantage with further goals after the break.
Following a draw between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona last weekend, Carlo Ancelotti’s side are now right back in the title race, although they are likely to drop back after their two rivals play on Sunday. Still, with seven wins on the bounce in all competitions, they are in ominous form. While Ancelotti struggled to get the balance of the team right early in the season, they have now extended their run of clean-sheets since the start of 2014 to five matches. As against Osasuna in midweek, Ancelotti again opted for a 4-3-3 and again it was Ronaldo that broke the deadlock.
With just 10 minutes on the clock, the recent Ballon d’Or winner went marauding through the middle, before unleashing a trademark pile-driver from at least 30 yards out that swerved and soared into the roof of the net with Betis keeper Stephan Andersen motionless.
And Andersen was again left watching on when Madrid doubled their lead after 25 minutes. Again it was a memorable strike from one of their stars that did the damage. Bale was given the rare privilege of taking a free-kick away from Ronaldo and took full advantage as he extraordinarily got the ball up over the ball and down into the bottom of the net from just 20 yards.
Betis did come close to pulling one back when Ruben Castro just failed to get onto a fine cross from the man on-loan from Atletico Madrid, Leo Baptistao. But any optimism for Juan Carlos Garrido’s struggling side was extinguished just before the interval. Luka Modric continues to be a hugely influential presence and, after taking out three Betis defenders in the box with a turn back onto his right foot, he rolled the ball square for Benzema, who placed as shot clinically just inside the near post.
The punishment only got worse for Betis after the break. Just past the hour mark, the danger seemed to be averted from a corner after the ball was headed out to Di Maria fully 30 yards out, but the Argentine met it with the crispest of strikes to take it through a crowd of bodies and into the bottom corner.
And the rout was complete in the final minute of the 90. Morata has found his opportunities increasingly limited of late, sparking much speculation about a transfer, but he showed his striking instincts to get his third goal of the season. Ronaldo will claim an assist, but his acrobatic overhead kick was surely not intended for Morata, but six yards out, the 21-year-old showed composure to take a touch and then finish coolly past the beleaguered Andersen.