MADRID (REUTERS) - Real Madrid dug deep in a 3-0 home win against lowly Alaves, scoring all three in the last 27 minutes of the game after the visitors gave them a few scares early on and threatened to pull off an upset at the Bernabeu Stadium on Saturday (Feb 19).
Marco Asensio roused the Bernabeu in the 63rd minute with a brilliant curled shot into the top right corner from outside the box. Vinicius Jr then extended the lead in the 80th minute before Karim Benzema added one more with a stoppage-time penalty kick.
The La Liga leaders moved up to 57 points from 25 games, seven ahead of Sevilla and 14 clear of Real Betis - both of whom have a game in hand over Real. Champions Atletico Madrid are fourth with 42 points, three more than sixth-place Barcelona.
"Our fans ask us to win always and we have to deliver it, we are used to the pressure, and in the second half they gave us the support we needed to win," Dani Carvajal said.
"I understand the fans being upset, in Real Madrid the highest level is a must," Carvajal added, referring to booing from the stands after a goalless first half against the second-from-bottom side.
While the result may have looked comfortable, Real looked tired and sluggish from the start, managing only two shots on target in the first half.
Coach Carlo Ancelotti, who has often been criticised for the lack of rotation in his starting 11, made no changes until Asensio and Vinicius had worked their magic late on.
The win may give Real a bit of breathing room at the top of the table - but not enough to lower the pressure or expectations they face from their fans.