MADRID (Reuters) - Real Madrid's Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos were on target in the first half as the hosts easily beat listless Valencia 2-0 on Sunday to make it three wins in a row in La Liga.
Benzema got Zinedine Zidane's side off to a strong start in the 12th minute when he collected a pass from Kroos on the edge of the area and had enough time and space to pick his spot and fire into the far bottom corner.
Kroos, who missed Tuesday's 2-0 home win over Getafe through suspension, doubled their lead shortly before halftime, finishing off a flowing move by driving a first-time shot low into the net from the edge of the area.
The victory took Real back into second place on 49 points, five behind leaders Atletico Madrid who beat Granada 2-1 on Saturday and have two games in hand. Valencia are 12th on 24.
With Atleti, Barcelona and Sevilla all on relentless runs of form, Kroos said Real could not afford to drop any more points if they wanted to keep up with the pacesetters.
"The others just keep on winning so we have to try and do the same. If we want to have any chance of staying at the top we have to win all our games," said the German.
"Every game we play we always try to win that's all we can do, it's what everyone else is doing so we have to try and do it too. We're worried about the injuries as we're missing some very important players but there's not much we can do about it."
Real were without seven players due to fitness issues and midway through the first half they lost Dani Carvajal to yet another injury on his return to action, taking the total number of injured defenders in their squad to five.
Yet even without some of their most influential players, including Sergio Ramos and Eden Hazard, they proved far too strong for Valencia, who had to make do without coach Javi Gracia on the sidelines due to a touchline ban.
The visitors missed their coach's presence as they played with barely any urgency or ambition, particularly in a lifeless first half in which they failed to register a shot on goal.
"We're left with a terrible feeling as we gave away the first half," said Valencia captain Jose Gaya, whose side thrashed Real 4-1 at home earlier in the campaign.
"It's not the first time this has happened this season and if we don't improve we won't get the results we need. We were better in the second half but overall we didn't show the intensity a game like this demands. We made it too easy for them."
(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ken Ferris)