Match Report: Real Madrid 3-0 Almeria
(James Rodriguez, Dos Santos own goal, Arbeloa)
La Liga, Santiago Bernabeu
James Rodriguez hit one of the goals of the season to bring up Real Madrid’s 100th league goal of the campaign in style and close the gap at the top of La Liga thanks to a 3-0 victory over struggling Almeria.
The Colombian produced the kind of strike that attracted president Florentino Perez to spend £63 million to haul him away from Monaco in the summer. It was his 12th league goal of the season so far and silenced the whistles that were set to greet Madrid after a poor first-half.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men doubled their lead early in the second half through a Mauro Dos Santos own goal and Alvaro Arbeloa wrapped things up with his side’s third late on.
It was not a show of attacking power that Barcelona produced 24 hours earlier against Getafe but it was enough for a comfortable win that takes Madrid back to within two points of the Catalans.
Ancelotti made plenty of changes with one eye on a packed fixture calendar that includes two Champions League ties against Juventus and crucial league matches against Sevilla and Valencia in the coming weeks.
Iker Casillas, Isco and Marcelo were all rested while Dani Carvajal and Sergio Ramos served a one-match suspension and Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Luka Modric remained sidelined through injury.
Madrid were expected to ease to victory against a side battling against relegation but visiting goalkeeper Ruben Martinez did not have a whole lot of work to do in a lacklustre first half. James Rodriguez flashed a header wide and Cristiano Ronaldo smashed a free-kick that skimmed onto the roof of the net but overall Madrid were below par.
That was until just a minute before the break when James saved the day. A poor clearance fell the Colombian’s way and he lashed a half-volley into the back of the net off the underside of the bar to get the Bernabeu on their feet.
Madrid took the momentum into the second half and they doubled their advantage shortly after the restart. Toni Kroos looked for Ronaldo with a cross but Dos Santos forced the ball into the back of his own net.
Martin Odegaard had the chance to become the youngest-ever Madrid player after being named on the bench for the first time since his January arrival but he had to make do with just being part of the matchday squad as Isco, Lucas Silca and Nacho all came on as substitutes.
Javier Hernandez had the chance to extend his good goalscoring run but fired wide of the near post from a dangerous Ronaldo cross and the Portuguese star had a couple of good chances to get himself on the scoresheet but could not hit the target.
Arbeloa wrapped up the win later on with his second goal of the season in La Liga.
Madrid: Navas, Arbeloa, Coentrao, Pepe, Varane, Illarramendi, Kroos, James, Jese, Chicharito, Ronaldo. Subs: Casillas, Marcelo, Lucas Silva, Nacho, Isco, Odegaard, Mayoral.
Almeria: Ruben Martinez, Ximo Navarro, Trujillo, Dos Santos, Verza, Hemed, Corona, Dubarbier, Edgar, Mane, Thomas. Subs: Julian Cuesta, Casado, Zongo, Espinosa, Ivan Sanchez, Antonio Marin, Azeez.