Real Madrid 2-0 Valencia: Asensio and Vinicius propel Real to victory
Vinicius Junior marked his 200th Real Madrid appearance in style with the second goal in a 2-0 win against Valencia.
The Brazilian burst into space from inside his own half to double Los Blancos' lead, just 90 seconds after Marco Asensio's stunning strike opened the scoring at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Madrid, having failed to score on Sunday against Real Sociedad, encountered similar frustration in the first half and saw an Antonio Rudiger header disallowed juts before half-time.
That did not deter Carlo Ancelotti's side, who responded in style in a second period where Valencia finished with 10 men after Gabriel Paulista's dismissal.
It took just three minutes for Madrid to carve through Valencia's defence, Luka Modric feeding a pass through to Asensio but a fine save from the boot of Giorgi Mamardashvili kept him at bay.
Asensio had another chance after Karim Benzema's deft backheel into his path inside the area but Gabriel was on hand with an outstanding block to deflect the strike safely over the crossbar.
Los Blancos thought they had found their breakthrough on the brink of half-time, Rudiger flicking a header in off the right-hand post, but referee Javier Alberola Rojas chalked the effort off for a foul from Benzema on Yunus Musah as Modric's corner was whipped in.
Six minutes after the restart, the hosts finally broke the deadlock. It was third-time lucky for Asensio, who picked up possession outside the box and unleashed a ferocious left-footed drive that left Mamardashvili stranded.
The lead was doubled just 90 seconds later, Vinicius bursting into space down the left and driving into the area and slotting a comfortable finish beneath the Valencia stopper.
Valencia's problems got worse when Gabriel was given his marching orders for a horrendous hack on compatriot Vinicius, who was fortunate to avoid injury.
What does it mean? Madrid back on track
A goalless draw against Real Sociedad last time out, followed by Barcelona's victory over Real Betis on Wednesday, left Los Blancos eight adrift of their great rivals in the hunt for the title.
That came amid a concerning blip for Ancelotti's side, having entered the game after dropping points in four of their last seven league matches — having done so just once in their first 11 LaLiga games.
There were no such issues against Valencia, however, picking up a victory that could be crucial for morale heading into a packed schedule in the coming weeks.
Benz in the mood
While he was not among the scoring, Benzema teed up both goals for Madrid — although they were both efforts that were primarily down to the skill of the goalscorers.
However, with two assists, Benzema has now been involved in 13 goals in his last 13 appearances across all competitions, having been involved in just five in his first nine this season.
Deadly from distance
Asensio's blistering effort from outside the box was Madrid's 12th in LaLiga this season, more than any other side in Spain's top tier.
At the opposite end, Los Blancos are the only LaLiga side not to concede a similar effort.
Key Opta facts
Madrid have not lost any of their last 15 home games against Valencia in LaLiga (W10 D5), equalling their longest unbeaten run against them on home soil in the top-flight (15 between 1969 and 1983 – W13 D2).
Valencia failed to have a shot during the first 45 minutes in a single LaLiga game for the first time since February 2021.
Benzema has equalled Paco Gento (427) as the seventh Madrid player with the most games played in LaLiga.
Since the 2015-16 campaign, among LaLiga players with 30+ goals, only Dani Parejo (30.2 per cent) has a higher percentage of his goals scored from outside the box than Asensio (26.5 per cent).
Since the start of 2012-13 season, no other LaLiga team have seen more red cards than Valencia (68 in 399 games).
This was Carlo Ancelotti's 850th managerial game in the Top five European leagues (486 in Serie A, 134 in the Premier League, 133 in LaLiga, 57 in Ligue 1 and 40 in the Bundesliga).
Madrid are on the road against Mallorca on Sunday, with Valencia travelling to tackle Girona on the same day.