Valencia 1-4 Real Madrid LaLiga: match report, goals
Two penalties from Ronaldo and second half goals from Marcelo and Kroos were enough to give Real Madrid all three points in a must-win game against Valencia. LAFC vs LA Galaxy: Vela vs Zlatan live online, MLS week 25
Valencia 1-4 Real Madrid: match report
Zinedine Zidane told reporters at his press conference on Friday that his team would lift themselves out of their recent slump. The skeptics in the crowd were excused for wanting to wait until Saturday afternoon to decide if they would believe him as they wanted to see with their own eyes what would happen next.
What did transpire at the Mestalla was a comprehensive scoreline but a far less convincing performance as a pair of Ronaldo penalties in the first half put the game out of Valencia's reach before the break despite their second half push for parity.
Martín Montoya lunged at Cristiano Ronaldo in the penalty area after a slick counter that saw Marcelo and Karim Benzema combine to tee up the Portuguese. The referee pointed for the penalty spot and Ronaldo rolled it home.
Montoya was on the wrong side of another decision in the penalty area on 38 minutes when he jumped into Benzema's back as the striker jumped to head the ball at the back post. The referee's decision was the same and ditto outcome from Ronaldo's spot kick. For as clumsy as Montoya was, Ronaldo was equally clinical with his execution.
Valencia responded after the break and got their reward when Santi Mina headed home from a corner after a period of sustained pressure on 58 minutes. That pressure was about to reach breaking point when Real Madrid started to slowly turn the tide.
Marcelo put the game beyond Valencia when he linked well with Marco Asensio on the left before driving low and hard beyond Neto, who might have hoped to do better at his near post.
Kroos put a nice lacquer on the scoreline when he curled home after a nice combination with Mateo Kovacic to make it 4-1.
Zidane had to prove to Real Madrid's bosses, the players, and maybe as importantly, himself that he could stop the recent rot. He did just that regardless of the performance as Real Madrid on to Levante away from home next week as the PSG showdown creeps ever closer.
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The pressure is on Zinedine Zidane. The Frenchman's task now is to arrest Real Madrid's decline and prove to the people at the top of the club that he can fight back against poor form and low confidence. He says the PSG game will decide his future but it could be decided before that if he shows himself incapable of showing signs of improvement.
Valencia visited the Santiago Bernabéu at the start of the season and before we knew how good Marcelino would make them so quickly but are the hosts today and will feel like they can get three points against their struggling rivals. Zidane has guaranteed a response as madridistas around the world wait for his promise to come through.
They do have the small matter of Barcelona in the Copa semi-final on Thursday but they will also be aware that a win at the Mestalla on Saturday afternoon will solidify their place in the top four and put Real Madrid in serious danger of missing out.
Marcelino says he will play Francis Coquelin at centre-half as he is the best option given Gabriel Paulista and Ruben Vezo's suspensions. Los Che have tried to overturn the Vezo's ban until the last minute but it appears as though they will be without the defender.
Real Madrid were dealt a blow with news that Sergio Ramos and Isco are out with injuries - soleus and a hip impingement respectively - and are thin in the ground in defense and attack. Ronaldo and Bale are back even though Ronaldo's record away from home is becoming a problem. They missed the Copa quarter-final defeat to Leganés midweek and the bbC could be set to start in a must win game for los Blancos.