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Real Madrid returned to the summit of the La Liga table with a resounding 4-1 victory over Villarreal at the Bernabeu.

Madrid produced an impressive performance, despite David Alaba being forced off through a knee injury in the first half, to sweep aside Villarreal and move a point above previous leaders Girona – who face Alaves on Monday.

Jude Bellingham netted the opener, heading beyond Filip Jorgensen to score his 17th goal of the season before Rodrygo doubled their lead, slamming home from a corner.

Jose Luis Morales threatened a comeback with a goal nine minutes after half-time, but the hosts hit back with a quick-fire double, beginning with a stunning solo effort by Brahim Diaz, with Luka Modric rounding off the scoring four minutes later.

The defeat did little to change Villarreal’s 14th placed status and continues their indifferent league form, contrary to their exploits in the UEFA Europa League which saw them finish as Group F leaders.

Incoming summer signing Endrick was in attendance to watch the impressive showing from Carlo Ancelotti’s side, and he will be excited by what he saw, with a relentless, high-tempo display to mark the final match at the Bernabeu in 2023.

Talking Point – Result bittersweet as Alaba adds to Madrid’s injury woes

Ancelotti’s side have made very little fuss about their horrific injury record this season, and while they will be ecstatic with the result and performance to comfortably see off Villarreal, Alaba’s injury in the first half with be a serious concern.

The defender fell awkwardly on his knee and was forced to come off the field with Nacho Fernandez taking his place.

Madrid already have so many key players out injured, namely Vinicius Junior, Thibaut Courtois, Eder Militao, Daniel Carvajal and Eduardo Camavinga. However, they will be boosted by the return of Aurelien Tchouameni this evening.

Fixtures will come thick and fast in the new year with the Copa del Rey, Super Cup and the Champions League, so their squad will be tested. There will be plenty of fingers crossed that the extent of Alaba’s injury is not too damning.

Player of the Match – Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid)

It is hard to choose anyone else, but equally, there were some real standout performances across the park.

Bellingham’s infectious energy and outright quality helped to open the scoring and he helped to spearhead many of his side’s forays forward.

However, Brahim Diaz and Lucas Vazquez also produced particularly noteworthy performances.

Player Ratings

Real Madrid: Lunin 5, Vazquez 7, Rudiger 6, Alaba 6 (Fernandez 5), Mendy 5 (Garcia 6), Valverde 6, Modric 7, Kroos 6 (Tchouameni 5), Bellingham 8 (Ceballos 5), Diaz 7 (Joselu 5), Rodrygo 7.

Villarreal: Jorgensen 7, Altimira 5, Albiol 4 (Cuenca 5), Mandi 4, Pedraza 5, Akhomach 5, Capoue 4, Parejo 6, Baena 5 (Terrats 5), Moreno 4 (Sorloth 5), Morales 6 (Brereton Diaz 5)

Match Highlights

25′ – GOAL! REAL MADRID 1-0 VILLARREAL. BELLINGHAM: It’s the opener, and who else to score it but the man on fire!

Modric sent in a delightful cross and the Englishman righted his earlier wrongs by sending a powerful header past Jorgensen. Well worked, and well deserved.

35′ – ALABA HAS TO COME OFF: This is concerning for Madrid. Alaba makes way for Nacho Fernandez after twisting his knee in an awkward fashion. Ancelotti has had so many injury issues to deal with this season, and this one looks like a blow.

37′ – IT IS A GOAL! REAL MADRID 2-0 VILLARREAL – RODRYGO: We had to wait to find out the verdict, but Madrid double their lead! Modric’s corner prompted a mad scramble, from which Vazquez emerged victorious. The ball fell to the feet of Rodrygo and he swept home.

The flag went up but a VAR check overturned the decision. This is looking like a tough night for the visitors.

54′ GOAL! REAL MADRID 2-1 VILLARREAL – MORALES: They do have one back! Now this is interesting. Dani Parejo found Morales in a nice pocket of space between Fernandez and Antonio Rudiger and the forward squeezed his effort past Andriy Lunin. Madrid looked in control, but could this change things?

64′ GOAL! REAL MADRID 3-1 VILLARREAL – DIAZ WITH A STUNNER: DIAZ, THAT IS UNBELIEVEABLE! The 24-year-old received the ball more or less on the half way line before turning Aissa Mandi. He charged forward, twisted and turned to beat two defenders in the box and fired past Jorgensen with a fine effort. That was some goal. Madrid back in firm control in some style.

68′ GOAL! REAL MADRID 4-1 VILLARREAL – MODRIC: This is becoming something of a rout. Villarreal the architects of their own downfall with some slack passing in their own final third. Madrid’s high press saw Rodrygo latch onto the ball before being challenged, but Modric was in his wake to fire home and put the game beyond doubt.

Key Stat

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