Real Madrid beat Valencia 2-0 to keep pace with Barcelona

Sports Desk, Feb 2 (EFE).- Defending LaLiga champions Real Madrid narrowed the gap to current leaders Barcelona to 5 points Thursday with a 2-0 victory over slumping Valencia.

The score flattered the 14th-place visitors, who had less than 30 percent possession and made only four attempts, none of them on target.

The damage would have been worse but for the play of Valencia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili and for the Blancos’ disappointing first half.

Real Madrid lost defender Eder Militao to injury in the 36th minute and saw the goal that would have given them the lead at the break disallowed for a foul in the build-up.

Valencia have become better at the back with the arrival of Voro as coach and after a Marco Asensio strike in the 2nd minute that forced a great stop from Mamardashvili, they managed to frustrate the Blancos going forward.

In the 19th minute, the Valencia keeper got help from defender Gabriel Paulista, who blocked a cross from Ballon d’Or Karim Benzema that was destined for Asensio at the post.

Asensio fired wide on a subsequent chance and Vinicius Jr. sent a shot into the arms of Mamardashvili before the Blancos broke the deadlock in first-half stoppage time.

Luka Modric lofted a corner into the box and the ball fell to an unmarked Antonio Rüdiger, who headed in for the goal. But the celebration among the nearly 52,000 in the stands at the Santiago Bernabeu was cut short when VAR intervened.

After a review, the goal was taken down for a foul by Benzema on Yunus Musah, to the disbelief of the Real Madrid players and coaching staff.

The hosts were much better after the break and Asensio finally got his goal in the 52nd minute, beating Mamardashvili with a blast into the corner of the net.

Vini made it 2-0 barely two minutes later.

Mamardashvili denied Modric and Fede Valverde to keep his side in the contest, but the visitors’ faint hopes of drawing level evaporated in the 72nd minute, when the referee showed Paulista a red card for tripping Vini. EFE rmm/dr

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