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Ronaldo brace in Real victory

Madrid: Jose Mourinho’s Real will be on a high after tearing Valencia apart in the first half of Sunday’s league game with a brilliant display of counter-attacking football that brought back memories of their superb form in winning the title last season.

Gonzalo Higuain opened the scoring in the ninth minute after a swift break and Ronaldo picked out Di Maria at the far post to make it 2-0 in the 34th minute.

The Portuguese forward raced clear two minutes later and smashed a low shot just inside the post before adding his second and Real's fourth in the 41st minute from a Mesut Ozil pass.

Ozil, one of the most prolific providers of assists in La Liga, sent Di Maria clear to make it 5-0 on the stroke of halftime as Real went into the break with their biggest halftime lead since Mourinho took over as coach in 2010.

They took their foot off the gas in the second half and Valencia enjoyed a good deal of possession without really threatening, although Pablo Piatti curled a shot against the crossbar in the 50th minute.

That was about as good as it got for Ernesto Valverde's side, who at least managed to avoid being on the receiving end of Real’s biggest away win, a 7-1 success at Real Zaragoza in 1987.

In another match, Atletico Madrid took full advantage of Barcelona's defeat at Real Sociedad and closed to within eight points of the La Liga leaders when Adrian and Koke struck in a 2-0 win at home to Levante on Sunday.

Barca crashed to their first reverse of the campaign when they let slip a two-goal lead and were beaten 3-2 at Sociedad on Saturday.