Madrid: Real Madrid’s revival under Santiago Solari appears to be back on track after they moved up to fifth in La Liga with a 2-0 win over Valencia on Saturday.
An own-goal from Valencia’s Daniel Wass gave Madrid an early lead before Lucas Vazquez added a late second to wrap up their sixth win in seven games under their new coach.
The 3-0 thrashing by Eibar last weekend, in Solari’s first official game in charge, had placed the depth of the recovery in doubt but this was another assured display to back up an impressive Champions League win over Roma in midweek.
Madrid move two points behind Barcelona and only three adrift of leaders Sevilla, albeit with both still to play on Sunday. Valencia stay 13th.
Marcelino’s side, attempting a comeback of sorts themselves after a poor start to the season, offered disappointingly little, save for a 20-minute spell at the start of the second half.
Otherwise, Madrid controlled the contest and while Gareth Bale’s league drought stretched to 10 games, his longest ever, the Welshman played a lead role in an energetic and fluid team performance.
The Santiago Bernabeu was almost packed out, eight days before Boca Juniors and River Plate are due to play here in the postponed second leg of the Copa Libertadores final.
With La Liga still pushing for Barcelona’s game against Girona to be staged in Miami, there was perhaps something to be savoured in two Spanish teams, in a Spanish competition, playing in a Spanish stadium.
Isco is one of Spain’s primary talents but is still to be picked in a starting line-up by Solari.
This was the midfielder’s seventh consecutive game out of the side and while he came on to cheers, 10 minutes with Madrid already ahead were only crumbs for comfort.
Bale seemed more pinned to the left wing than he has been for a long time and he rolled back the years with a straight run down the line before whipping in an early cross. Karim Benzema’s ambitious volley sailed just wide.
Madrid had made much the better start and in the eighth minute, took the lead.
Wass headed into his own net but Dani Carvajal led the celebrations. He kept the ball alive before rummaging past Gabriel Paulista and Jose Gaya. The flicked cross gave Wass too little time to react.
Valencia made hardly any impact on the half, pressed and harried into submission. Neto skewed a clearance under pressure to Dani Ceballos, whose shot was blocked, but then made up for his error by denying Bale from close range.
In Serie A Juventus extended their lead in Serie A to 11 points after beating Fiorentina 3-0. Rodrigo Bentancur and Giorgio Chiellini scored and Cristiano Ronaldo added a late penalty to condemn Fiorentina to its first defeat of the season.
Fiorentina dominated for large periods and tested Wojciech Szczesny several times before Juventus doubled its lead and essentially sealed the result.
Second-placed Napoli visits Atalanta on Monday, the day after third-placed Inter Milan travels to Roma.
“We have started a tough month, with difficult away matches, in the best way possible,” Chiellini said. “December will be important. At the end of the month we can do a first evaluation. But there’s still a long way to go until May.”