Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti waxed lyrical over Gareth Bale, Jese Rodriquez and Karim Benzema after the thrilling win over Villarreal.
The trio all bagged in an entertaining 4-2 triumph at the Bernabeu on Saturday - a result that sees Real move to second in the Liga standings, though Barcelona can regain their position with victory at Sevilla on Sunday.
Real's success was even sweeter considering Cristiano Ronaldo started a three-match ban following a straight red card in the 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao last weekend.
Welshman Bale set the ball rolling by capitalising on slack defending by Jose Dorado and applying a fine chip, before he then provided the assist for Benzema's first with a clipped cross from the right byline.
Full-back Mario pulled a goal back for the visitors before half-time, but the hosts' two-goal cushion was restored when Jese capped off a superb team goal.
Giovani dos Santos curled home a terrific free-kick to threaten a comeback from the away side, but Jese and Benzema once more combined for the Frenchman's second to allay those fears.
And Ancelotti was thrilled with the way his frontline coped with the absence of Ronaldo.
"Not having Cristiano motivates everyone else to work harder," he said. "He is an indispensable player for us and without him the rest (of the team) work even harder.
"Bale played very well. It wasn't an easy game but the whole team did well. He scored the first goal, assisted on the second and played the game to a high standard.
"Jese is in great form at the moment. Everyone is pleased with him. He works hard and helps the team, for his age he is doing very well. It's a good thing for everyone."
On Benzema, the Italian added: "Benzema is very important, not only because he scores but because he does other things like defending. He is a complete (forward)."
Villarreal enjoyed large spells of possession during the game, and Ancelotti was thrilled with the patience Real showed and the swiftness of their game on the break.
"We have suffered a lot in the game because Villarreal played well with the ball on the ground," he continued.
"We had good opportunities to counter-attack, we have done very well."comments