Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid battled hard to claim all three points against Valencia and give themselves hope of winning the title going into the final weekend of La Liga.
James Rodriguez runs the first half showing
The game began slowly, with both sides feeling each other out and it took until the eleventh minute for the first chance to arise. Casemiro running down the centre of the field unchallenged before dragging his shot wide of the post.
Another near miss for Real Madrid came when live spark James Rodriguez whipped in a delightful corner, which was met by Karim Benzema, but the Frenchman’s header whistled past the post.
World Cup winner Toni Kroos then set up Cristiano Ronaldo with a spectacular pass through the middle of Valencia’s defence but Diego Alves produced a wonderful save to deny the Portuguese wizard.
Moments later, Madrid finally found their goal to keep them in the title race when Marcelo found Ronaldo on the edge of the box, the talismanic attacker found a yard on Aymen Abdennour then blasted the ball into the bottom corner, giving Alves no chance.
Just after the half hour mark, Los Blancos has two chances in very quick succession, the first came when Marcelo played in a delightful dinked cross toward Lucas Vazquez whose header was saved brilliantly by Valencia’s shot-stopper. Then Rodriguez squared the ball for Ronaldo, but he miss-timed his shot and missed the ball.
It should have been 1-1 when Dani Parejo found Paco Alcacer with magnificent pass, Alcacer tried to set up Parejo for a tap-in, but the central midfielder couldn’t reach the ball, Joao Cancelo could however and with the goal at his mercy, the young full-back only had to smash the ball past covering Marcelo, but instead, he chipped the ball over the crossbar.
A couple of minutes before the half time whistle, a real moment of controversy arose when Ronaldo crossed the ball to Benzema, whose shot forced Alves into another top class save. Valencia failed to clear and Benzema had another bite of the cherry, this time making no mistake, sliding the ball beyond Alves to double his sides lead. However, when Ronaldo first crossed the ball into the box, Madrid’s number nine appeared to be a couple of yards offside, but the linesman chose not to raise his flag, which resulted in Benzema doubling the lead.
Chances galore at the Santiago Bernabeu
Into the second half, Parejo almost produced a moment of wonder, the Spaniard fired a free-kick toward the goal with the ball destined for the top corner, only for the cross bar to come to Kiko Casilla’s rescue.
Moments later, Los Che finally found the goal they were looking for when Raphael Varane could only clear Andre Gomes’ cross to the edge of the box and Rodrigo Moreno hit the ball first time into the back of the home sides goal.
The two-goal cushion was restored less than five minutes later when Rodriguez perfectly weighted a pass through the Valencia defence which allowed Ronaldo to gather the ball and blast it beyond Diego Alves.
Casilla was then forced into making an incredible save when Parejo curled a shot toward the bottom corner, but the Spanish goalkeeper sprawled to his right to keep the game at 3-1.
15 minutes before the end, it should have been 3-2 when Santi Mina, who had been impressive since coming on, pulled the ball back for Gomes, but the Portuguese midfielder fired the ball over the cross bar.
Just after the 80th minute, Gomes redeemed himself by scoring the best goal of the match; he’d been trying his luck with shots from outside of the box since coming on at half-time but he was unsuccessful. This time however, the midfield man gave Casilla no chance by smashing the ball into the far corner to give his side hope once again.
That hope was cruelly snatched away from the visiting side when Rodrigo was shown a straight red card, a somewhat strange decision from the referee, who gave no clear indication as to why he sent off Rodrigo.
That was that at the Santiago Bernabeu, the win for Real Madrid keeps them in the hunt for the La Liga title and for Valencia, they might as well start planning for a fresh season come August.