Real Madrid 5-1 Real Sociedad: Mourinho's men back on track
Real Madrid maintained their six point gap at the head of the Primera División table Saturday night with Karim Benzema the starman as his side crushed a poor Real Sociedad at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu.
Gonzalo Higuaín put Madrid ahead on five minutes, and they were rarely troubled thereafter with Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema both grabbing doubles. Sociedad’s reply from Xabi Prieto was nicely struck but mattered little.
The ease of the win was welcome after a difficult week for Madrid, which had seen four points dropped and five red cards at Villarreal, including the one which meant blancos boss José Mourinho was banned from the touchline last night.
Mourinho had chosen both Gonzalo Higuaín and Karim Benzema in attack, while Real Sociedad coach Philippe Montanier went with a five man defence. That tactical battle was decided early, when Benzema ran down the right wing and pulled the ball across to Higuaín, who swept it home first time from fifteen yards as all three Sociedad centre-halves stood and watched.
This did not quieten the Bernabéu fans who - still angry with perceived bias that Villarreal game - persisted in whistling almost every decision from referee Javier Turienzo Álvarez. The official looked determined not to be intimidated and annoyed Ronaldo in particular by turning down one unlikely penalty appeal.
Sociedad had a glimpse of an equaliser when Antoine Griezmann’s 25 yarder deflected into Imanol Agirretxe’s path close to goal but Iker Casillas saved well. It was mostly all Madrid though, with Ronaldo missing two clear chances - a one-on-one with Sociedad stopper Bravo and a header from a Sergio Ramos cross.
On the rare occasions Sociedad threatened, teenage centre-half Raphaël Varane (in for the suspended Pepe) and the reprieved Ramos looked composed. The latter began the move which lead to the second goal, winning possession and immediately picking out Kaká, whose delightfully weighted pass gave Ronaldo time to pick his spot from eight yards.
It was soon 3-0 Madrid with the goal of the game. Xabi Alonso’s ball over the top was inch perfect, Benzema’s control on the run and lob over Bravo even better. The Frenchman had needed just two touches, and at three down Sociedad looked dead and buried.
The Basques did hit back almost immediately. Griezmann held the ball up well and Xabi Prieto’s cross-shot flew into the net off Ramos’ head. Montanier abandoned the five man defence before half-time with Mikel González - with a knock and a booking - withdrawn for midfielder David Zurutuza.
This made little difference as Madrid got their fourth just after the break. The ball ricocheted around a bemused looking defence to Sami Khedira, whose clever first-time pass found Benzema alone to fire past Bravo.
The ex-Lyon striker looked razor sharp all night, while Ronaldo seemed more agitated. He had his second though when one long ball from Varane opened up the defence and Higuaín squared for the Portuguese to tap home.
There were still 35 minutes remaining but the game really was up now. The impressive Griezmann had a couple more efforts at goal, but Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka felt safe enough to send on rarely seen Turkish midfielder Nuri Sahin and young striker Jesé as late substitutes.