Real Madrid kept up the pressure on Barcelona at the top of La Liga with a 3-0 win over Villarreal on Wednesday night.
Karim Benzema opened the scoring for Real in the first half, before Lucas Vazquez and Luka Modric secured the three points after break.
The result keeps Zinedine Zidane’s side a point behind leaders Barcelona and second-placed Atletico, who had both won earlier in the night.
Barcelona ended a run of poor results with an 8-0 win at Deportivo la Coruna, while Atletico secured a 1-0 triumph at Athletic Bilbao.
Perhaps due to Barcelona’s overwhelming victory, the atmosphere was largely flat at the Bernabeu at kick-off, and it showed in the home side’s display for the majority of the first half.
Real had plenty of possession, but didn’t look like breaking through Villarreal’s defence until their opener after 41 minutes.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Real’s biggest threat, burst down the left before crossing into the six-yard box. The ball was palmed away by Sergio Asenjo, but he only sent it as far as the onrushing Benzema, who had the easiest of jobs to guide a header into an empty net.
The goal finally brought the game to life and Villarreal had their first meaningful attack almost immediately after falling behind, Denis Suarez forcing a decent save out of Keylor Navas after breaking into space on the edge of Real Madrid’s area.
Real improved after the break, but still struggled to create clear-cut chances until Vazquez doubled their lead after 69 minutes.
The winger, in for the injured Gareth Bale, played a great one-two with Benzema before charging into the area and slamming the ball just inside Asenjo’s near post, clipping the inside of the upright as it went in.
And seven minutes later the game really was up for a disappointing Villarreal side – who play Liverpool in the Europa League semi-final next Thursday night – as Modric made it three.
Again, Benzema was involved as he released Danilo down the right, and the full-back found Modric in the area, who used his first touch to fire home.
The title race now rumbles onto Saturday, when Real travel to Rayo Vallecano before Atletico host Malaga and Barcelona play Sporting Gijon.
Source: Sky Sports');