Real Madrid registered yet another victory at the Santiago Bernabeu. They thumped a resurging Levante 4-2 and in the process extended their lead to 10 points at the top of the table.
The victory brought extra flavor, as Osasuna damaged Barcelona’s title challenge by crushing them 3-2 at home on Saturday night. The stage was set for Madrid to grab the opportunity with both hands. They did, but with extra swagger and style.
It was a familiar story, same soap opera. Madrid will trail, giving everyone a spot of anxiety. Then from a ‘sleepy-white ocean’ they will shift their gears and crush the opponent’s resistance with such venom that in the end it will look like a play-thing sort of act.
Trust me, it is not. Under every good manager, a team develops certain trade-mark traits. Under Jose Mourinho the Los Blancos have developed the art of winning from behind.
We found the same story against Levante. Both the teams started with a 4-2-3-1 formation. The away side took an early lead from defensive snafus. Gustavo Cabral opened the scoring within just 5’ minutes on the clock when he was left in space from a free kick, as the ball came to him after a deflected header from Sergio Ramos.
Madrid slowly and steadily got back to their routine job, but Levante’s resolute defending was hard to break. Madrid deservedly got back into the match when Vicente Iborra was sent off after handling the ball in Levante penalty box, earning two yellow cards in the process.
After that, it was all left to Ronaldo to grab the headlines. Mesut Ozil was outstanding once again, Granero was superb, Ramos typical and Benzema classy but the Portuguese was head and shoulder above the rest.
He scored from the penalty to restore parity. In the second half a deft piece of skill from Higuain from the right hand corner threaded a cross which Luso poked in with a cunning header, giving the home side a 2-1 lead.
Few minutes later, from outside the box, Ronaldo produced a magic, a dipping shot leaving Gautavo Munua shaking his head in disbelief. It was all within 20 minutes after the restart.
Ronaldo has now scored 34 goals this season in 33 games. He is tied with with Pahino and Juanito with 121 goals for the club and stands at 12th leading scorer in the history of Real Madrid.
It was his 14th hat-trick for Madrid, third highest behind two 'not' mere mortals- Puskas and Di Stefano.
Barrage of white waves was coming thick and fast, as Bernabeu faithful bayed for blood. Jose Mourinho was unhappy with Madrid’s typical cavalier approach late on. They left their defense exposed and Levante scored through Arouna Kone.
But, when Madrid is in full flow, you can't do anything except helplessly admire their madness. Jose, this is Real Madrid. Here, fans would loathe seeing a drab 1-0 physical hard earned victory. They want to get entertained and you have to entertain. Though, they don't endorse any particular brand of football, like Barcelona does, but they crave for entertainment to the fullest.
Jose said after the match: "Other play and play and people enjoy, but here people will pita."
And in the end you simply can’t complain, when a French guy called Karin Benzema can curl a ball from the edge of the box with an empyrean ease. A Figo-ish goal, added with genial spring. Ozil got a great chance to increase the lead, but was denied by the post. If Ronaldo was sprouting cherry in the cake, Ozil was the true architect, almost to the level of sublime best.
It was a perfect day for the Whites. Ronaldo scored the 4,000th league goal for the club. They have now won 14 out of 18 games with more than one goal difference. But, above all the 10-point lead with Barcelona matters most. It was pleasing to see; of all players Ronaldo hugged his boss with broad smiles in his cheek.
Mr. Balague said “At the Bernabeu Mourinho is like an ocean trying to tear down a wall”. If they win the league, which is in high probability, that ocean will forever drown the Bernabeu faithful with love, and in return he will gain the status of ‘legend’.
Follow Saikat Mandal on twitter @Saikat_Anchor
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