Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo Goes struck twice each as Real Madrid thrashed Valencia 5-1 on Saturday to stay hot on the heels of shock La Liga leaders Girona. Dani Carvajal opened the scoring for Los Blancos before the Brazilian duo took the reins as they romped to victory, to trail Girona by two points after they won 2-1 at Rayo Vallecano. Madrid were without key player Jude Bellingham, watching on from a box at the Santiago Bernabeu alongside his mother after he suffered a shoulder injury last weekend from which he has not fully recovered.
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said it was his team’s finest performance of the campaign to date.
“It was the best game, Valencia were not able to show their best level because we played very well,” Ancelotti told reporters.
“In the last two matches we’ve been a complete team, playing good football, with quality, sacrifice, commitment, we’ve done well.”
Vinicius, who toyed with Valencia’s defence, was facing them for the first time since he was racially abused in the east coast club’s stadium in May, sparking worldwide outrage.
Rodrygo set up his Brazilian compatriot’s goals before scoring two himself on a superb night for a duo who had struggled for form until this week.
“Now we are in our best moment (of the season),” Rodrygo told Real Madrid TV.
“We are back to being the Rodry and Vini that the fans want to see… if they are happy then I am happy too.”
Spain’s top scorer with 10 league goals, Bellingham’s absence increased worries about Madrid’s attacking prowess, but they were rapidly quelled.
Carvajal dispelled doubts with a superb left-foot strike from outside the area in the third minute.
Andriy Lunin, starting in goal again for Madrid after Kepa Arrizabalaga joined Thibaut Courtois on the sidelines, denied Valencia forward Hugo Duro twice in the early stages with fine stops at the other end.
Then Vinicius and Rodrygo lit up the Bernabeu.
Vinicius extended Real Madrid’s lead with a unique strike, diving to chest the ball home after Rodrygo fizzed a low cross into the box for him.
He grabbed his second soon after the break, beating Giorgi Mamardashvili at the near post from outside the box.
The Valencia goalkeeper erred badly almost immediately after to hand Madrid their fourth on a plate, passing the ball straight to Rodrygo, who stroked home.
Rodrygo and Vinicius stepped up again in Bellingham’s absence, as they did in midweek when he was benched against Braga.
Rodrygo jinked into the area and finished well for Madrid’s fifth, before Duro grabbed a consolation at the third time of asking for Valencia.
Madrid’s win stopped Girona from escaping the chasing pack.
“Girona are doing very well, better than the other teams,” added Ancelotti.
“They don’t have any European competition, obviously they are an opponent who can fight for the title, I have no doubt about that.”
Girona came from behind to beat Rayo and keep the pressure on Spain’s traditional giants.
Artem Dovbyk and Savinho fired the Catalan minnows to an impressive victory in the capital which leaves them seven points above Barcelona, third, who host Alaves Sunday.
Girona, only in the top flight for the fourth season in their history, have played the best football in La Liga this season and gave another example of it against Rayo.
“The team does not give up, when we’re behind on the scoreboard we play even better. I’m happy to keep going, up there at the top,” Girona captain and playmaker Aleix Garcia told Movistar.
The hosts took the lead after five minutes when a Girona clearance struck Rayo’s Isi Palazon and fell into Alvaro Garcia’s path in the area, and he fired into the far corner.
However Michel’s side dominated the coach’s former team and it was no surprise when Dovbyk levelled with his seventh league goal of the season.
Girona winger Savinho sent the visitors ahead in the 65th minute, netting the rebound after Rayo goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski brilliantly blocked Dovbyk’s effort.
The Catalan team started the season with the objective of staying up, but have raised their ambitions after 11 wins from 13 games.
“We have to be realistic, we’re not only thinking about survival now, I think the team can do a lot more,” added Garcia.
“We want to keep dreaming… what will come, will come.”
Elsewhere Real Sociedad earned a 3-1 win at winless, bottom-of-the-table Almeria to move sixth.
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