Real Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini hailed his side’s spirit as they closed the gap on La Liga leaders Barcelona to one point with a 2-0 home win over third-placed Valencia.
Madrid’s title dreams looked to have suffered a serious blow when they were defeated by Barca in last weekend’s El Clasico at the Bernabeu, but Barca’s goalless draw against neighbours Espanyol ensured that the title race remains alive.
“I’m very pleased with the mental strength and the fighting spirit that the team have,” said Pellegrini. “The team have kept a similar level all season. At the Bernabeu we’ve played 16 games and we’ve won 15, and we’ve scored a lot of goals. We’ve always lifted ourselves after difficult moments, after falling in the Champions League, after the game against Barcelona.
“We’ve shown spirit and I’m very proud of both the group and all the players individually. I’m very happy with my squad both on and off the pitch. It was very important to win in Almeria and follow it up against Valencia. We are a team full of goals.”
Valencia coach Unai Emery, meanwhile, had few complaints about the result as his side fell a massive 24 points behind Madrid as they sit third in the league.
He said: “Madrid have been better and that has been reflected in the scoreline.
“It’s very difficult to stop Real Madrid because they have so much firepower. It’s a fair result and we’ve not done enough going forward. We came here with the intention of winning the game, but our opponents are challenging for the league and have been better than us.”