Real Madrid coach Juande Ramos praised his side for proving there is life beyond Arjen Robben after dismantling Sporting Gijon to make a slight dent in Barcelona`s lead at the top of the Primera Liga standings.
Robben has been in inspirational form since returning from injury late last year and has played a key part in the impressive record Madrid boast under new coach Ramos, which now stands at nine wins in 10 competitive games following yesterday`s triumph.
Robben was not part of that match though after being a late injury casualty, but his team-mates did not appear to miss the flying Dutchman as a brace from Raul, plus further goals from Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Marcelo, secured a 4-0 win that also moved Madrid to within 10 points of Barca, who could only draw this weekend.
"I`m happy for the team, for their work. There has been a lot of talk of `Robben-dependence and they have shown they can play well and win well without him," said Ramos, who was also without the services of a host of other players as well.
Rafael van der Vaart was suspended while injuries ruled out Wesley Sneijder, Guti, Christoph Metzelder and Michel Salgado, who all joined long-term absentees Ruud van Nistelrooy, Mahamadou Diarra and Ruben de la Red on the sidelines.
That led to Dani Parejo earning his first call-up to the senior squad as well as the return of Alberto Bueno from Real Madrid Castilla.
It also allowed fringe players Javi Garcia and Miguel Torres a chance to impress from the substitutes bench.
"This squad is very competitive, we were missing four or five important players and seemed that we`d come here with the reserve team," said Ramos.
"We played a great match and showed any player on this squad can be a starter."
Madrid`s victory not only kept up their impressive winning streak - which now stands at eight successive league victories during which time they have conceded just one goal - but it also enabled them to put a bit more pressure on Barca.
Ramos was not getting carried away though, saying: "Now we are a little closer to Barcelona, but the league continues to be just as complicated. We need to continue picking up points because we don`t depend on ourselves.
"The result was crushing, but Sporting didn`t disappoint me and we had to work hard, what happened was Real Madrid had a magnificent game."