Real Madrid battles to win in Valencia
Two goals from Gonzalo Higuain and a header from substitute Eziquiel Garay gave Real Madrid a hard-fought win in Valencia's Mestalla Stadium, Xinhua reported.
Real Madrid's triumph has all the more value as it was achieved without either of their summer signings Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka. Ronaldo was suspended, while Kaka is struggling with a groin injury.
The first half began as a tense affair with both sides taking precautions in defense and midfield, but began to open up as the half progressed.
Madrid was close to opening the scoring in the 44th minute when Sergio Ramos headed against the post and Higuain failed to make contact with the rebound.
In the following move Pepe had to be carried off the pitch after a bad collision with Valencia striker David Villa. The Madrid defender looked to have damaged his knee and was replaced by Eziquiel Garay.
Madrid opened the scoring after 54 minutes after a brilliant piece of work from Karim Benzema. The Frenchman beat Valencia right back Bruno and crossed for Higuain to head home.
The provoked an immediate response from Valencia and David Navarro should have scored from a corner, but the defender headed over from close range.
Villa didn't miss however, after 60 minutes. The top scorer in Spain headed home a cross for the left to net his 12th goal of the season.
Higuain scored his second following a magnificent pass from Marcelo after 65 minutes.
That goal caused Valencia coach Unai Emery to bring on Joaquin and Nicola Zigic as substitutes and with 10 minutes remaining Joaquin repaid his coach's faith.
Once again the ball came over from the left and Joaquin smashed the ball home from just inside the Madrid area.
Just a minute later Garay got his head to a diagonal free kick taken by Xabi Alonso and somehow directed it into the corner of the Valencia net to put Madrid back in front in what was turning into a fascinating second half.
The win keeps Madrid five points behind league leaders FC Barcelona with a game in hand.