Real Madrid thrash Valencia 4-1

Real Madrid move to within three points of leaders Real Sociedad after a comprehensive 4-1 win over title holders Valencia.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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Real Madrid moved to within three points of leaders Real Sociedad after a comprehensive 4-1 win over title holders Valencia at a rain-soaked Bernabeu on Sunday. Ronaldo put the home side on their way in the first half before Roberto Ayala levelled matters after 53 minutes. Pablo Aimar was dismissed for the visitors before strikes from the impressive Zinedine Zidane, Guti and Portillo secured a deserved victory for Vicente del Bosque's side. On a rain-sodden pitch at the Bernabeu, Real Madrid's irresistible attacking force was up against the immovable object of Valencia's miserly defence on Sunday. Real squandered a host of chances before Ronaldo found his range ten minutes from the break. Zinedine Zidane unlocked the visitor's defence and the Brazilian neatly rounded the goalkeeper before tucking the ball home. The newly crowned World Player of the Year marked his sixth league goal of the season by running over to embrace his coach Vicente del Bosque, whose mother died this week. Real were in rampant mood, and should have added a second - Roberto Carlos seeing his swerving shot cannon back off the upright. However, in the 53rd minute Valencia drew level. Fabio Aurelio's precise free kick was met with an equally accurate header from Roberto Ayala - firmly planted into the corner of Iker Casillas' net. The visitor's suffered a setback soon after though as Pablo Aimar was dismissed for two avoidable yellow cards. The Argentine received his marching orders after a needless stamp down onto Michel Salgado's foot. His rash action would cost Valencia dear as they conceded a second shortly after his exit, as Zidane's shot took a wild deflection up off Mauricio Pellegrino to wrong-foot Palop. Rafael Benitez's side never stopped fighting but were condemned to their heaviest defeat of the season four minutes from time as Guti slammed in a fabulous strike from the edge of the box. Victory was sealed in stoppage time as the inspirational Zidane showed off some of his silky skills, weaving through the Valencia defence before producing a perfect pass to put Portillo through for an easy goal. It was an awesome display from Zidane to help Madrid capture their fifth successive league win - their title challenge is rapidly gaining momentum. (AP)