Real Madrid returned to winning ways in LaLiga with a 2-0 victory over Valencia at the Bernabeu.
It was not a particularly fluent display but, after last weekend’s 3-0 defeat by Eibar, the result was what mattered most and an early own goal from Daniel Wass put Real ahead before Lucas Vazquez made sure of the points late on.
The result lifted Real up to fifth place and to within two points of Barcelona, who face Villarreal on Sunday.
Santiago Solari had refused to answer questions about out-of-favour midfielder Isco at his pre-match press conference and the Spain international again found himself on the bench, coming on only for the last 10 minutes.
Madrid were on it from the start and might have gone ahead in the third minute when Gareth Bale set up Karim Benzema, but the Frenchman’s shot was just off target.
The hosts only had to wait until the eighth minute, though, when they benefited from some charitable defending. Benzema mysteriously chose to chest Luka Modric’s cross in front of goal but the ball bounced to Dani Carvajal and his driven ball was directed into the top corner by Wass.
Bale was having a lively evening and tried his luck from outside the box in the 14th minute before drawing a good save from Neto with a shot from the corner of the six-yard box.
Valencia offered little in attack but were keeping the referee busy, with Carlos Soler, Jose Gaya and Gabriel Paulista all booked in the first 20 minutes
Dani Parejo produced a rare Valencia effort in the 31st minute but his long-range shot was comfortable for Thibaut Courtois, while Benzema and Bale both shot off target as the first half drew to a close.
Valencia offered more of a threat in the early stages of the second half, particularly down the right through Santi Mina but, when the Spaniard’s chance arrived in the 54th minute, he could not take it, running through on Courtois’ goal before shooting well over.
Valencia had another good chance 10 minutes later when Francis Coquelin headed on a free-kick for Gabriel Paulista at the back post but the defender could not direct his volley on target.
Moments earlier Bale had been withdrawn with an apparent thigh problem and replaced by Marco Asensio.
Real had offered little in attack and found themselves on the back foot but they should have added a second on the break. However, after terrific work down the right from Marcos Llorente, Asensio allowed Cristiano Piccini to pull off a fine block.
At the other end, substitute Michy Batshuayi was denied both by an excellent Courtois save and an errant offside flag but Valencia’s chances of taking something from the game ended in the 83rd minute.
The brilliant Carvajal broke away down the right and Benzema unselfishly picked out Vazquez, who swept the ball into the bottom corner.