Real Mallorca 0-3 Real Madrid
Real Madrid travelled to Real Mallorca this afternoon looking to pick up their first victory away from the Bernabeu in La Liga since October, and attempt to close the gap on leaders Barcelona at the top of the table. Lassana Diarra started in a midfield in a strong looking line-up, behind a formidable front trio of Higuain, Raul and Robben.
Real Mallorca have a decent record on their home patch however, and were looking to cause an upset. Coach Manzano opted for Pierre Webo in a lone striking role as he looked to contain the champions.
However, any game plan that Mallorca may have had was completely destroyed by Madrid in a blistering opening twenty minutes.
It took just 170 seconds for Higuain to set Arjen Robben clear, and the in-form Dutchman strode clear before sliding the ball confidently past former Deportivo keeper Aouate and into the corner of the net.
On seventeen minutes, they doubled their advantage. Gonzalo Higuain was having an excellent opening spell, and he powered his way into the area, beautifully caressing the ball into the path of Raul, who cheekily back-heeled home to make it 2-0.
It was Raul’s destiny to find the net today, as the legend was making his 500th league appearance for Los Merengues, and what better way for the captain to celebrate such an incredible achievement than to find the back of the net. It was his 213th strike in the Primera Division, putting him just three behind the total of Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stefano in the all-time scorers list at the club. It was a special milestone for a special player.
Mallorca just could not handle the pace and power of the Madrid attack in the first half, and Higuain almost made it three on the half-hour but Aouate did well to block at the Argentine’s feet from close range.
There was no real threat from the home side, who were still reeling from the double salvo they suffered in the early stages and Madrid comfortably saw the match out until half-time with their lead intact.
You felt Mallorca had to arrive in the second period with purpose and manage an early goal to give themselves the best possible chance to claw themselves back into the contest.
They would get one chance – and on 57 minutes Juan Arango was wasteful when it arrived. Webo did well to flick the ball on, and with the goal at this mercy the Venezuelan flicked the ball over Casillas but also over the crossbar.
Madrid duly punished them for this miss minutes later. Fernando Gago floated a teasing ball to the back post, and Sergio Ramos finished with the confidence and ability of a forward, volleying the ball through Aouate’s legs and gave Los Merengues a three-goal cushion and wrapping up the points.
Madrid rang the changes after the third, giving Huntelaar and Van Der Vaart a run-out, but by this stage the match was long over and the Los Blancos saw the match out in a professional fashion.
Juande Ramos’ side are a different proposition from the shambolic displays that marked the culmination of the Schuster era, and the Madrid faithful must be wondering that if Ramos had been at the helm since August, whether they would still find themselves twelve points adrift of their bitter rivals Barcelona.
But for now, Ramos can only win matches, and his side are doing so efficiently and with a certain degree of flair.
Robben (3’), Raul (17’), Ramos (67’)
Real Mallorca: Aouate; Nunes, Ramis (Keita 75’), Corrales, Navarro; Marti, Santana, Arango (Trejo 84'), Scaloni, Suarez (Jurado 45’), Webo
Real Madrid: Casillas; Ramos, Pepe, Cannavaro, Heinze; Sneijder, Gago, Diarra; Robben (Miguel Palanca 71’), Raul (Huntelaar 73’), Higuain (Van der Vaart 65’)
--Paul Macdonald, Goal.com