Real Madrid kept the pressure on Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at the summit of La Liga with a comfortable 5-0 win at Real Betis.
Betis are propping up the table, and the gulf in class between the two sides was evident.
The Cristiano Ronaldo bandwagon rolls on and on.
Fresh from his Ballon d’Or success, he added another stunning goal to his scrapbook. Not to be outdone, Ronaldo’s fellow attacking wizard Gareth Bale netted a goal of his own, while Karim Benzema, Angel Di Maria and Alvaro Morata also got themselves on the scoresheet.
For all the attacking jewels in the Real camp, it was a defender who had the first notable chance. A cross from Di Maria found Pepe in space, but he failed to keep his header down.
It was not a chance Real were made to regret, as they moved ahead on 10 minutes. And what a goal it was from Ronaldo. Collecting the ball on the left wing, he cut inside before unleashing a shot from 25 yards that flew into the top corner.
Ronaldo came close to an assist on 22 minutes. Again cutting in from the left, he burst between two defenders and flicked a ball with the outside of his right foot that was just too heavy for Bale.
Bale got himself a goal on 25 minutes. Taking on free-kick responsibilities from Ronaldo, the Welshman flashed an effort beyond Stephan Andersen.
Betis had a good chance to cut the deficit on 41 minutes.
A brilliant piece of skill from Leo Baptistao earned him some space on the right. He delivered a devilish cross, but it was just out of the reach of Ruben Castro.
The contest was put beyond Betis minutes before the interval when Karim Benzema stroked home from 10 yards to put Madrid three goals to the good.
And there it is! Karim Benzema with his 100th goal puts Real Madrid 3-0 up.— Rhiannon Jones (@rhiannoncwjones) January 18, 2014
Andersen produced a great save to deny Ronaldo a second, but he could do nothing to keep out Di Maria’s low strike from all of 30 yards.
Morata added a fifth late, but it owed plenty to Ronaldo. He produced a brilliant overhead kick to send the ball into the path of the striker, who stabbed it home.
|Real Madrid Player Ratings|
|Angel Di Maria||8|
Up next for Real Madrid is a Copa Del Rey clash with Espanyol on Tuesday, before they entertain Granada in the league on Saturday. For Betis, their battle to avoid relegation takes them to Celta Vigo on Friday.
Afterwards, Ancelotti said (per Marca's English-language website):
Everything went well in the game. We'll sleep well tonight.
We should be happy. All the players played with great concentration, especially at the start of the game.
This game was a great opportunity to get to the top of the table. The whole team worked hard to create chances for [Benzema, Bale and Ronaldo]. We had a lot of opportunities to score.