MX23RW : Sunday, April 5 09:54:09| >> :120:3981:3981:
Apr 29, 2015 at 7pm UK at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu
Real Madrid
Rodriguez (44'), Dos Santos (49' og.), Arbeloa (84')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Match Analysis: Real Madrid 3-0 Almeria

Sports Mole dissects the 90 minutes of action as Real Madrid record a 3-0 win over Almeria in La Liga.

Real Madrid cut the gap on La Liga leaders Barcelona to two points with a 3-0 win over Almeria on Wednesday.

The home side took the lead in the latter stages of the first period when James Rodriguez found the top corner, before an own goal from Mauro dos Santos made it 2-0 early in the second half.

Alvaro Arbeloa rounded off the scoring for Real Madrid in the 84th minute.

Here, Sports Mole dissects the 90 minutes of action in Madrid.

Match statistics

Shots: 17
On target: 4
Possession: 58%
Corners: 10
Fouls: 9

Shots: 7
On target: 0
Possession: 42%
Corners: 4
Fouls: 12

Was the result fair?

Statistics rarely paint a false picture in football and the numbers are there for everyone to see. It is true that Almeria frustrated Real Madrid in the first period, which was ultimately decided by a moment of excellence from James. However, the home side had 18 attempts in total, in contrast to Almeria, who had seven but did not register a single shot on target. A final score of 3-0 is perhaps a shade harsh on the visitors, who as mentioned, can be proud of their performance. However, there is little doubting that the correct team - in terms of fairness at least - collected all three points at the Bernabeu.

Real Madrid's performance

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti rang the changes for the clash at the Bernabeu, with Keylor Navas, Arbeloa, Pepe, Fabio Coentrao and Jese Rodriguez all coming into the team. Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal missed out through suspension, while Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Karim Benzema remained on the sidelines. In truth, it was a really poor first 45 minutes from the home side. James and Cristiano Ronaldo both had chances in the early stages, but Almeria grew as play developed and it proved to be a frustrating opening half for Ancelotti's side. Boos were expected to ring around the stadium at the interval, but moments before the half-time break, James rattled one into the top corner to change the outlook completely.

Almeria were still very much in the game at 1-0, but it was the type of fixture where the second goal was always going to be important and when it came for the hosts early in the second period, it was effectively game over. Initially it appeared that Ronaldo, who had a frustrating evening, had scored his 51st goal of the season, but it went down as a Dos Santos own goal after the defender stretched inside the box. There were not too many opportunities as the half developed, but Arbeloa made sure of the points late on when he converted from close range. Ancelotti resisted the temptation to hand a debut to Martin Odegaard, who was on the bench, but valuable minutes were given to a number of squad players. It was far from vintage Real Madrid, but at this stage, it is the points, not the performances that are most important.

Almeria's performance

Almeria were also without key players for the match, with Thievy Bifouma, Wellington Silva, Michel and Fernando Soriano among those that missed out. Sebastian Dubarbier did return from suspension, but it was far from their strongest XI. Head coach Sergi Barjuan, however, will have been delighted with what he saw in the first period. Thomas Partey had a super half in the middle of the field, while Verza and Corona also helped control the midfield battle for long spells. Dubarbier had a golden chance after 23 minutes, but the Argentine fluffed his lines after excellent wide work from Thomas. Getting to the break at 0-0 would have been some achievement, but the visitors just could not hold on, with James trying his luck and finding the top corner. It was a big blow at that stage of the game and it was always going to be tough in the second half.

In fairness, Almeria started the second period quite well and showed willingness to attack, but they were 2-0 behind after 49 minutes when Dos Santos turned into his own net. From that point, it was always going to be a damage limitation exercise and Barjuan made changes with more pressing matters to consider in the weeks ahead. A third goal conceded was perhaps a little harsh on the visitors, who were impressive for long stages of the game, but the fact that they did not have a single shot on target will be a concern. That said, whether Almeria survive this season was never going to depend on their result at the Bernabeu.

Sports Mole's man of the match

Alvaro Arbeloa: Perhaps a surprise choice, but the Real Madrid right-back had an excellent game at the Bernabeu. Drafted in due to a suspension for Carvajal, the experienced Spaniard was brilliant defensively and always prepared to break forward. He got his reward late on when he converted a low cross from Hernandez. The goal capped what was an impressive night of action from the former Liverpool full-back.

Biggest gaffe

There was not really a standout gaffe in terms of an individual error, but Real Madrid's attacking work in the first period was extremely disappointing. Luckily for the home side, James popped up with a moment of brilliance to secure a first-half lead, but there is no getting away from the fact that Ancelotti's team were hugely disappointing in the first 45 minutes.

Referee performance

Referee Ignacio Iglesias will not have many easier games to officiate. The Spaniard only issued one yellow card in the Spanish capital and that did not arrive until the 76th minute, when Coentrao had his name taken. There were no major incidents and Iglesias was prepared to let the game flow at both ends of the field.

What next?

Real Madrid: Next up for Real Madrid is a difficult trip to top-four hopefuls Sevilla on Saturday.

Almeria: Barjuan's side return to action at home to Celta Vigo next Monday.

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Real Madrid's Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti gestures during the UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg football match Real Madrid CF vs FC Bayern Munchen at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on April 23, 2014
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