Real Madrid produced a stunning second-half response to come from 2-1 down to defeat Real Mallorca 5-2 at the Bernabeu in La Liga.
Goals from Emilio Nsue and Alfaro, sandwiching an effort from Gonzalo Higuain, gave relegation-threatened Mallorca the most unlikely of half-time leads in Madrid, but they were blown away by a blitz of three goals in only five minutes after the game restarted.
Cristiano Ronaldo claimed his 350th career goal with a towering header, Luka Modric scored a remarkable effort from long range and Higuain claimed his second following some nice work from Mesut Ozil. Karim Benzema completed the scoring in injury time.
The win takes Madrid four points clear of Atletico Madrid in second having played a game more than their local rivals; Barcelona are 10 points ahead in first but barely a concern any more with the title rice all but decided in favour of the Catalans.
Madrid - drawn to face Galatasaray in the Champions League quarter-finals on Friday, the real focus of their season - rested Sami Khedira, Xabi Alonso and Mesut Ozil and were punished as their rather disjointed side went behind after only six minutes.
Giovani Dos Santos, once of Barcelona, eluded Alvaro Arbeloa on the left and dug out a super cross from the byline, with Nsue meeting the ball with a powerful standing header to divert the ball into the bottom corner and out of the reach of Diego Lopez from 15 yards.
It took Madrid only nine minutes to respond. Modric, in for Alonso in the deep creative role in midfield, slipped a lovely through-ball for Pepe, making a run into the box. As Dudu Aouate raced off his line to claim the ball, Pepe poked the ball wide to Higuain, who was well placed to control and finish into an empty net.
Madrid were still struggling to match their usual standards though and, incredibly, Mallorca edged back in front after 21 minutes. The visitors won a corner and after Pedro Bigas flicked the ball on, an unmarked Alfaro stuck his forehead out to divert it past Lopez at the back post.
Ronaldo, marked by a certain Alan Hutton, was having an off day in the Madrid attack. After being played in by a perfectly-weighted pass from Kaka he lashed his shot off target and then struck the top of the crossbar with a fierce shot after a cute lay-off from Alvaro Morata. And as Madrid continued to disappoint the fans in the Bernabeu, there was even time for Hutton, on loan from Aston Villa, to direct a header wide before the break.
Mourinho replaced Alvaro Morata and Arbeloa with Mesut Ozil and Benzema at half-time though and the game quickly turned in favour of the home side.
After 52 minutes Ronaldo claimed his 350th career goal for club and country as he ran to the near post to meet a corner and directed a quite brilliant header down and back across goal to find the far corner of the net.
Two minutes later Madrid had the lead. A slipping Hutton was robbed of the ball on the byline and although Mallorca kicked the ball clear, it was only to find Modric, who ran onto the bouncing ball and smacked a brilliant shot into the top corner from nearly 30 yards. The ball accelerated to a fearsome velocity as it swerved out of the reach of Aouate.
Modric's sensational effort was followed by a moment of subtle excellence from Ozil as the German playmaker found the byline and spun to side-foot a perfect pass across goal for Higuain, who swept the ball into the roof of the net for 4-2.
Madrid continued to press forward - Ronaldo, Ozil and Higuain all threatening - but it was Benzema who wrapped up the scoring in injury time as he tapped home following a cross from Higuain, the striker having been played in by a superb pass from Alonso.
- Sports & Recreation
- Gonzalo Higuain
- Mesut Ozil
- Real Madrid
- Real Mallorca