|Di Maria opened the lock with his goal|
Mourinho made Lass take Alonso's place and positioned Coentrao as a right back. The Portuguese manager knew Sporting were going to play a tough game that would tire his men by forcing them to over-exhert themselves physically. The locals stayed in their half of the pitch waiting for the Madridistas to make mistakes, and Real hardly found any room to manouvre and connect with Higuain through the defensive line. Neither side had chances on goal until a Di Maria shot on the 19-minutre mark was impressively cleared by Juan Pablo. The Whites continued to dominate as the minutes passed, but no goals were scored.
Then, in the 34th minute, Di Maria stole the ball from an overly confident Damian, entered the box and, when everyone expected him to pass it back to a teammate, he surprised Juan Pablo with a solid shot. The goal forced the locals to start attacking more and to abandon their ultra-defensive system. Sporting started to challenge Casillas on occasion, but the goalkeeper saved all their shots with relative ease.
The locals hardly took risks after half-time and looked for chances to attack by way of Real Madrid mistakes rather than their own merits. Botia had the clearest chance in the 59th minute with a header that missed the mark. Soon after that, Di Maria served a spectacular assists to Cristiano Ronaldo, who controlled the ball and nutmegged Juan Pablo to tally the team's second strike of the evening (64'). This was the Portuguese player's 17th goal in La Liga this season.
Preciado made changes to his team trying to cut distances short, but things actually started looking worse for the locals. Higuain nearly scored a third in a one-on-one (70'), and three minutes later Albiol came on for Di Maria, who had clearly been the man of the match. Benzema replaced Higuain two minutes after that.
The remainder of the clash was somewhat easy going for Real. Casillas hardly felt threatened and Eguren was sent off with a double booking on the 79-minute mark. Kaka came on and nearly scored in the 88th minute, but Juan Pablo managed to send the ball out to corner-kick. Benzema also came close to tallying a third strike, which was eventually scored by Marcelo following an amazing individual effort.
Stadium: El Molinon
Goals: 0-1. Min. 34. Di María; 0-2. Min. 64. Cristiano Ronaldo; 0-3. Min. 90. Marcelo.