Real Madrid welcomed Valencia to the Santiago Bernabéu on Thursday and held on to all three points after a 2-0 win.
Scorers: Asensio 52′, Vinícius Júnior 54′
Red card: Paulista 72′
Carlo Ancelotti’s side welcomed a struggling Valencia to the capital but had to dig deep for this crucial victory as they closed in on leaders Barcelona.
Marco Asensio was the most active for Los Blancos in the first half but squandered three chances to break the deadlock as Valenciaredirected almost every attempt.
Goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili, in particular, stood strong to deny the Spaniard in the opening 10 minutes.
Madrid went on to dominate possession of the ball as Valencia struggled to link up in the attacking third. Edinson Cavani and Yunus Musah couldn’t create anything worthwhile, as the visitors recorded zero shots in the opening 45.
Meanwhile, to make matters worse for Madrid, Éder Militão became the fourth defender to pick up an injury and was forced off before Antonio Rüdiger’s header was ruled out by VAR.
After the break, however, the hosts looked like a brand new side and scored two goals in two minutes to take control of the pitch.
Asensio erased his blunders in the first half with a characteristic left-footed rocket from outside the box before Vinicius Júnior ran from within his own half and slotted the ball beyond Mamardashvili for 2-0.
The celebrations would then be cut short as Karim Benzema was the next to be taken off. The Frenchman was seen limping off the pitch and headed straight down the tunnel.
Throughout the final 30 minutes, Madrid pushed for a third as Valencia’s defence was pinned back in their own box.
It was then the visitors’ turn to be the recipients of unfortunate events as Gabriel Paulista was shown a straight red for deliberately kicking Vinícius Júnior.
Going down to 10 men prevented any potential for a Valencia comeback, and the result is not what they would have hoped for after the sacking of Gennaro Gattuso two days ago.
Looking at the table, 14th-placed Valencia are only one point above relegation while Real Madrid are five off leaders Barcelona