Real Madrid secured a 2-0 lead in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final with Valencia on Tuesday night at the Bernabeu.
Valencia may have put in a committed display in the Spanish capital but it was Real who emerged on top through goals either side of half-time as Karim Benzema initially put the hosts ahead against the run of play before an Andres Guardado own goal secured the first leg.
After two early Cristiano Ronaldo free kicks flew wide in the opening seven minutes, Madrid’s clearest chance fell to Luka Modric, but the Croatian midfielder also somehow contrived to shoot narrowly wide.
Having been let off the hook, Valencia lifted their intensity and took control of possession although Madrid did manage to fashion another good chance in the 28th minute as Ronaldo played in Mesut Ozil.
However the young German midfielder was denied by a good last-ditch tackle from Pablo Piatti.
The visitors bounced back with two decent chances for Jonas, one of which was only kept out by a magnificent reaction save from Iker Casillas, but the misses proved costly as Benzema gave Jose Mourinho’s side the lead against the run of play.
Eight minutes from half-time a swift counterattack finished with Sami Khedira putting a first-time pass into the path of Benzema, who then guided the ball into the bottom corner.
The visitors continued to press after the break, producing some adventurous football that forced Jose Mourinho’s men to defend in numbers.
Valencia let a good chance to equalise slip in the 50th minute as Victor Ruiz nodded over the bar, despite beating Casillas to a cross into the box, while Jonas shot wide in the 66th minute with an open goal beckoning.
And, having missed their opportunities, Valencia fell further behind as Fabio Coentrao raced to the byline to cut back, leading to the ball being bundled into the net by a combination of Guardado and Gonzalo Higuain, although the Mexican appeared to take the last touch.
Valverde was sent to the stands by the referee in the aftermath of the goal, but Vicente Guaita halted things from getting worse as he denied Ronaldo with two brilliant saves in the closing stages.
As a result, Mourinho’s men only take a 2-0 advantage into the second leg at the Mestalla in a fortnight.