Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior both scored braces as Real Madrid downed Valencia 4-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu.
After a slow start Real increasingly dominated the first half and shortly after Luka Modric hit the bar, Casemiro won a dubious penalty running into Omar Aldarete and Benzema netted the spot kick just before the break.
This was doubled when Vinicius Junior embarked on a fine run in from the left flank and exchanged passes with Benzema before calmly slotting home.
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The Brazilian notched his second heading home from close range after Jasper Ciliessen half-saved Marco Asensio's shot.
Gojncalo Guedes scored with a rebound header from a spot kick, after Thibaut Courtois had saved his initial effort, before Benzema restored the three-goal advantage with a neat turn and finish with two minutes remaining.
The win lifts Real Madrid eight points clear of second-placed Sevilla, who have two games in hand. Valencia lie ninth in the table.

TALKING POINT - How will the world's best two left wingers mesh?

This is the quandary Carlo Ancelotti will have to deal with when, if as expected, Kylian Mbappe moves to the Santiago Bernabeu in the summer. Vinicius Junior could not have done more this year. Nor could his partnership with Karim Benzema be much slicker.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mbappe has just as smooth a partnership with Benzema for the French national team. In the old days it would be suggested great players find a way of playing together but the issues we have seen with PSG or Manchester United shows just putting overwhelming striking talent on the park does not always lead to a cohesive attacking unit.
Both Mbappe and Vinicius Junior look so strong coming off the left flank it will take something from their powers to be played on the other wing.

MAN OF THE MATCH- Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid)

He really is a joy to watch. With party tricks to almost compare to compatriot Ronaldinho (a spurious, but glorious, no-look finish was how he finished his first goal) and lethal pace to rival Ronaldo, he really has taken the mantle from Neymar as the premium Brazilian superstar.
Underrated is the quality of his passing when in attacking positions in the last third. He showed this setting up Luka Modric for a shot against the bar and in his precise pass into Benzema's feet which he got back en route to Real Madrid's second.

PLAYER RATINGS

Real Madrid: Courtois 8, Lucas Vazquez 7, Eder Militao 7, Alaba 6, Mendy 6; Kroos 7, Casemiro 7, Modric 7; Vinicius Junior 9*, Asensio 6, Benzema 8.
Subs: Ceballos 6, Camavinga 6, Nacho 6, Valverde 6, Isco 6
Valencia: Cillessen 7, Piccini 6, Alderete 6, Diakhaby 6, Jose Gaya 6; Guillamon 7, Musah 6, Wass 7, Helder Costa 6; Goncalo Guedes 6, Maxi Gomez 6.
Subs: Cheryshev 6, Koindredi 5, de Souza 6, Vallejo 6,

Real Madrid's French forward Karim Benzema celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and Valencia CF at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on January 8, 2022. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

Image credit: Getty Images

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

41' Off the bar! Vinicius Jr got the ball in the left hand side of the area and found Modric on the edge of the box who turned inside two defenders before crashing a left-footed effort into the underside of the bar, from whence it bounced to safety.
42' PENALTY! Casemiro ran into the penalty area and then ran into the body of Alderete. That's a very harsh penalty.
43' GOAL FOR REAL MADRID! Benzema crashes the spot kick home into the top left corner.
53' GOAL FOR REAL MADRID! Fleet feet and awful defending contributed in equal measure as Vinicius Jr dribbled into the box and exchanged passes with Benzema then got through a crowd of Valencia defenders before slotting home.
61' GOAL FOR REAL MADRID! Vinicius Jr nods home on the goal-line after the Valencia keeper half-parried Asensio's shot on goal.
75' PENALTY! Mendy pulls back de Souza on the six-yard box. Valencia want a red card but it is only yellow.
76' GOAL FOR VALENCIA! Courtois saved his spot kick but Guedes headed home the rebound.
88' GOAL FOR REAL MADRID! Fantastic finish from Benzema. Taking Mendy's low cross, two touches saw him turn 270 degrees and then a neat finish left the goalkeeper with no chance.

KEY STAT

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