Real Madrid ended a torrid seven days on a positive note with a 5-0 win over Rayo Vallecano.
Having started last week in pole position in the La Liga title race, defeats to Barcelona and Sevilla rocked the Madrid giants.
And having seen rivals Atletico Madrid and Barcelona win earlier in the day, Real responded with a fine win, which came courtesy of goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, Daniel Carvajal, Gareth Bale (two) and Alvaro Morata.
Karim Benzema had a decent chance to settle the Real nerves three minutes in, but his crisp strike was beaten away by Ruben.
The two most expensive players in the game combined for the opener on 15 minutes. Bale collected a pass from Ronaldo and galloped down the right before playing the ball back into Ronaldo’s path.
Taking the ball in stride, Ronaldo drove into the box before striking a shot beyond Ruben for his 28th league goal of the season.
This was Ronaldo's 40th opening goal in a La Liga match, most of all players since he is at Real and 2 more than Messi since 2009/10.— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaLive) March 29, 2014
Benzema had a huge chance to double Real’s lead on 27 minutes, but a shocking first touch with the goal gaping enabled Rayo to smuggle the ball away.
There was a moment of alarm for Real just after the half-hour mark, as Ronaldo landed awkwardly when making a challenge and looked in real discomfort. The World Footballer of the Year played on, but there was blood seeping out of a gash in his knee.
Bale has had an up-and-down go of things at Real this term, and his season was summed up in a microcosm on 37 minutes. The Welshman collected a pass and turned on the afterburners to streak away from the Vallecano defence.
Faced with just Rayo keeper Ruben, Bale attempted a feint, but he got his studs caught in the turf and fell to the ground.
Real failed to kill off the game in the first half, but they did exactly that on 55 minutes. Ronaldo on this occasion turned provider, as he cushioned a pass to Carvajal, who slotted home.
Bale got his name on the scoresheet on 68 minutes, with the simplest of finishes following great interplay between Benzema, Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria.
Bale's first goal was a tap-in. The second was anything but. The former Tottenham man collected the ball on the edge of his own box and dashed the length of the field, beating three defenders in the process, before stroking a shot into the corner. It was a quite brilliant solo goal.
Gareth Bale: Has now scored (12) or assisted (12) 24 goals in his 23 La Liga apps this season— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) March 29, 2014
Those who braved the terrible weather were treated to some great goals, and substitute Morata produced a stunner on 78 minutes.
Collecting the ball on the edge of the box, the forward created a yard of space before curling a wonderful strike into the top corner.
Following his late goal, Morata issued a rallying cry via the club's official website:
We are happy with the victory and now we're thinking about the next game. We will not give up.
We know that if we want to win the league we have to win every game. We have spoken between ourselves and whilst there's a chance to carry on fighting, Real Madrid will be there.
|Real Madrid Player Ratings|
|Player||1st Half||2nd Half|
|Angel Di Maria||8||8|
With seven games remaining in the La Liga season, Real trail Atletico by three points. Four of those games are at home, while two of their away trips in the league are at sides in the bottom half of the table (Celta Vigo and Real Valladolid).
If Real’s dip in form is now over, hopes will be high in the Bernabeu that they can still come out on top in the Liga title race.