Real Madrid 4-0 Zaragoza: Higuain and Di Maria among scorers in routine win

Real Madrid made it five Liga games without defeat as they coasted to a straightforward 4-0 victory over Zaragoza at the Santiago Bernabeu.

In front of a quiet set of fans, two goals in quick succession, courtesy of Gonzalo Higuain and Angel di Maria, ensured that los Blancos took a two-goal lead into the break.

The visitors were resurgent in the second-half, but Michael Essien and Luka Modric added a pair of late goals as Jose Mourinho earned his 100th win in charge of Madrid.

The game began at a relatively tepid tempo, with Zaragoza not afraid to push men forward and attack.

Yet Madrid looked more likely to score and after Di Maria wasted an early chance, he clipped a fantastic ball into Cristiano Ronaldo on 14 minutes. The Portuguese got between the defenders and headed it at goal, but was unable to work Roberto Jimenez in the Blanquillos‘ goal.

The relatively muted atmosphere in the Bernabeu almost turned to stunned silence six minutes later though. Sergio Ramos’ poor clearance fell straight to Helder Postiga, but the defender’s blushes were spared as Iker Casillas saved the Portuguese’s effort with his legs.

Typically, Madrid countered with intent and in the 23rd minute they took the lead. Roberto did well to stop Raul Albiol’s header from finding the back of the net, but there was nothing he could do as Higuain lashed in the rebound from inside the six-yard box.

The onslaught continued and it only took two minutes for the hosts to double their lead. Again, Roberto saved the initial effort, but Di Maria fired home at the second time of asking.

Madrid were exploiting acres of space on the right and Ronaldo came close to making it three before the half-hour mark, though his driven cross-shot effort flew narrowly wide of the post.

The hosts remained on top after the break, but some resilient defending ensured that the deficit remained at two.

Zaragoza began to get a foothold in the game and were denied a goal by a fantastic Casillas save in the 58th minute. Victor Fernandez shifted the ball onto his left foot and curled a 20-yard effort towards the far corner, only to see the keeper claw it aside.

The Spain international’s goal came under real threat again moments later, as Paco Montanes’ tested him with a long-range strike, before Jose Mari’s deflected effort cannoned back off the crossbar with 25 minutes remaining.

The visitors did manage to get the ball in the back of the net after a brilliant finish from Postiga, but the goal was disallowed for a contentious offside decision.

Ronaldo rattled the bar with a swerving 85th-minute free kick and the third goal duly arrived two minutes from time, as Essien slotted home following a swift counterattack.

There was still time for one more, in the second minute of stoppage time, and this time Modric drilled home a low effort from the edge of the box to add some gloss to the scoreline.

Victory sends Madrid above Malaga and into third position, but they still sit a daunting eight points adrift of league leaders Barcelona.

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