By Ron Walker
Last Updated: 01/12/18 10:03pm
An own goal from Daniel Wass and a late second from Lucas Vazquez earned Real Madrid a 2-0 home victory over Valencia.
Wass inexplicably stooped to head the ball beyond goalkeeper Neto from Dani Carvajal’s cross from close range in the eighth minute, giving Real a lead they were unable to add to before half-time, despite near constant dominance.
After half-time the visitors improved markedly and should have levelled through Gabriel, but the defender volleyed over Francis Coquelin’s flick-on from a free-kick.
The hosts wrapped up victory in the 83rd minute as Vazquez finished off a slick team break to move the hosts fifth in the table.
Real Madrid: Courtois (7), Carvajal (8), Varane (6), Ramos (7), Reguilon (6), Modric (7), Llorente (7), Ceballos (7), Vazquez (7), Benzema (7), Bale (6).
Subs: Asensio (7), Valverde (6), Isco (n/a)
Valencia: Neto (7), Wass (5), Garay (7), Gabriel (6), Gaya (6), Soler (7), Parejo (7), Coquelin (6), Guedes (6), Mina (6), Gameiro (5).
Subs: Piccini (7), Batshuayi (6), Kondogbia (6)
Man of the match: Dani Carvajal
Real registered their first meaningful chance with less than three minutes on the clock, when Gareth Bale paced away down the left and delivered a wonderful cross for Karim Benzema who peeled off Ezequiel Garay but fired just over on the volley.
Soon after Valencia shot themselves in the foot to give the hosts the lead. Luca Modric’s ball into the box from deep was crying out for a headed effort from Benzema, but he chested it across goal instead. Carvajal recycled possession and his cross was then headed in with a firm header from Wass at his own near post.
The hosts could have extended their lead on several occasions before the break but Neto was not tested as much as their dominance could have allowed.
There were two changes for Real Madrid from the side that won at Roma on Tuesday, with Dani Cabellos replacing Toni Kroos and Marcelo out of the 18 allowing Reguilon a start at left-back.
Valencia dropped Geoffrey Kondogbia for Carlos Soler and Kevin Gameiro replaced Rodrigo in attack, with Ezquiziel Garay also in for Mouctar Diakhaby.
And after half-time things changed dramatically, as Valencia improved almost from the restart. Santi Mina almost picked out Kevin Gameiro with a ball across the box and Gabriel’s close-range effort was well off target.
Substitute Isco came close to doubling the lead but saw his shot blocked by fellow replacement Cristiano Piccini, as Real showed they still carried a threat.
And they struck again when Vazquez robbed Jose Gaya of the ball high up the pitch and broke with pace. Despite Valencia flooding bodies back, after a slick passing move Marco Asensio’s low pass across the box found Vazquez, who finished the move he had started.
Man of the match – Dani Carvajal
Carvajal made the first goal and had a big hand in the second, taking on Vazquez’s pass before pacing forward some 40 yards with the ball.
He had far the quieter night of Real’s two full-backs, which demonstrated how well he did against a tricky customer in Goncalo Guedes.
Both sides return to the Copa del Ray in midweek. Real Madrid host a Melilla side they hold a 4-0 first-leg lead over on Thursday at 3.15pm, and Valencia host Rebro, who they squeezed past 2-1 in the away leg, on Tuesday at 6.30pm.