Gareth Bale scored four goals as Real Madrid put 10 past nine-man Rayo Vallecano to ease the pressure on Rafa Benitez.
It was the Real Madrid coach’s 500th career win in management and the result moves the team to within two points of Barcelona who did not play because they were winning the Fifa Club World Cup in Japan.
It was one of those bracket-requiring scorelines – it’s been over 50 years since the team last scored 10 in the league but all is not well at the Bernabeu. Cristiano Ronaldo reacted furiously to the supporters when they began to whistle the team in the first half and the Portugese refused to celebrate his brace with home fans.
Rayo are always lambs to the slaughter in the Santiago Bernabeu – they have the worst defensive record in the division – and when they were reduced to nine men in the first 45 minutes they knew they were in for a record-breaking beating.
They had Tito sent off on 14 minutes for an awful challenge on Toni Kroos. They led at the time 2-1 after goals from Antonio Amaya and Jozabed had cancelled out a fine opening strike from Danilo.
Bale then powered a header in from Danilo’s cross and Raul Baena was given a second yellow card for tugging at Sergio Ramos shirt in the penalty area – it was the kind of challenge that players get away with week after week but that when given referees always argue they are absolutely justified according to the letter of the law.
Rayo were crestfallen and Madrid smelt blood. Ronaldo scored the penalty that had resulted from Baena’s infraction and before the break Bale charged through the threadbare heart of Rayo’s defence to thump home the fourth.
There were still whistles at half-time as the players left the pitch and the last to leave, Ronaldo was visibly upset with the home supporters.
They had jeered most loudly when Rayo’s second goal went in and he had remonstrated with them to get behind the team. Before the game various players’ names were whistled as they were read out.
It was a tough last day at the office for the players who now take a week’s break from the pressure-cooker atmosphere.
The second half brought more goals. Karim Benzema scored from James Rodriguez’s pass to make it five. Ronaldo got the sixth from the same assist-provider and the Portuguese then laid the seventh on a plate for Bale on the hour to give him his hat-trick.
Bale then got his fourth of the afternoon and made if eight for Madrid when an attempted pass to Ronaldo bobbled back into his path and he shot past the hapless Yoel in the Rayo goal.
He was replaced by Alvaro Arbeloa and given a generous ovation from the Bernabeu – even before Rayo had been depleted by the sendings-off he had looked in the mood to make them suffer.
Benzema got the ninth with 10 minutes left from a Luka Modric pass and almost on full-time the Frenchman completed his hat-trick to make it 10. It was the third time in their history that they had made double figures and the first time since 1962 when they beat Las Palmas 11-2.
No team in a top European league has managed it since Borussia Monchengladbach in 1984 when they beat Eintracht Braunschweig 10-0. The records are impressive but behind the numbers Real still have problems. They had looked shaky until the red cards came and their unforgiving supporters are not helping them.