Real Madrid winger Angel di Maria celebrates his opener vs. Almeria at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Helios de la Rubia/Real Madrid via Getty Images
Real Madrid enjoyed a comfortable 4-0 victory over Almeria on Saturday night to move level on points with Primera Division leaders Atletico Madrid.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men took advantage of Barcelona’s surprise defeat earlier on Saturday, with goals from Angel di Maria, Gareth Bale, Isco and Alvaro Morata lifting them back above the Catalan club in the battle to be crowned Spanish champions.
It was Real’s third successive win in La Liga – a run which has seen them score 13 unanswered goals – and they sit behind Atletico on head-to-head only, although their city rivals are in action at Getafe on Sunday.
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Real dominated from the whistle and should have been ahead after just four minutes at the Bernabeu but the crossbar intervened to deny Di Maria from 25 yards.
The Argentinian winger then brought Esteban Suarez into the action minutes later, curling in left-footed from the right of the area and forcing the Almeria goalkeeper to parry clear.
Esteban was tested again by Di Maria soon after, once more palming away a curling shot from a similar distance. And the visiting keeper had to be at his best to prevent Bale from scoring after 22 minutes, getting a hand to a stinging drive from the Wales international.
However, the Almeria back-line was eventually breached by Di Maria after 28 minutes, who was teed up by Nacho before cutting across the area and curling an exquisite left-footed effort past the reach of Esteban.
It was no less than Di Maria deserved, and he came close to adding another 10 minutes later with a corner from the right which threatened to dip in under the crossbar and had to be tipped over by Esteban.
Real continued to rule the roost at the start of the second half and Luka Modric’s fierce drive was only a whisker away from going in at the right post.
Instead, it was Bale who fired in goal number two for the hosts, slamming in a shot after 53 minutes which squirmed into the net despite Esteban’s best attempts to keep it out.
Isco then added another just three minutes later, chesting down a pass from Karim Benzema and playing the ball back on to his right foot before smashing home at the near post.
Benzema could have added his own name to the scoresheet as the half wore on but turned the ball past the right post from close range.
And the Frenchman was wasteful again eight minutes from time when Modric’s free-kick was deflected off the wall into the path of Morata, whose lovely back-heel found Benzema only for the forward to blast wildly over the target.
However, Morata fared better five minutes from time, benefiting from an assist from Asier Illarramendi to lift the ball over Esteban and into the net.