Cristiano Ronaldo fired Real Madrid ahead before going off injured as they cruised to a 5-0 win at Almeria to remain six points adrift of leaders Barcelona who defeated Granada 4-0 earlier on Saturday. Atletico Madrid then played their part in a day of big wins for the teams at the top of the table when Raul Garcia and David Villa scored two goals apiece to help Atletico Madrid retain a strong hold on second spot with a 7-0 win over 10-man Getafe.
Ronaldo struck after three minutes but the game was still in the balance when he limped off early in the second half.
Karim Benzema settled Real’s nerves by curling home the second on 61 minutes before Gareth Bale,Isco and Alvaro Morata crushed Almeria.
The main concern was the extent of the leg strain for Ronaldo,who has bagged 14 goals in seven games including four for Portugal in their triumphant World Cup playoff win over Sweden. “He had a problem with his thigh but I don’t think it will be anything as there was no pain, Real coach Carlo Ancelotti said.
Injury-plagued Barca continued to set the pace after first-half penalties by Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas set them up for victory. Visiting Granada had Manuel Iturra dismissed after 66 minutes before Alexis Sanchez and Pedro completed the rout for the champions,who were missing a string of players including Lionel Messi,Xavi and keeper Victor Valdes.
Barcelona have 40 points from 14 games and a three-point lead over Atletico Madrid,with city rivals Real a further three points adrift.
Real pressed Almeria in a storming start and went ahead as Isco sent Ronaldo through with a searching ball from the right. Almeria set out to defend deeply with five at the back,a system that has brought them success in recent games,but Real’s quality in attack proved too much.
Following the restart,Ronaldo went off holding his leg after battling for the ball with Alex Vidal. The game turned scrappy but Benzema produced a fine goal and from there Almeria’s heads dropped. Bale robbed Sebastian Dubarbier to score before Isco and Morata completed the rout.
Barcelona meanwhile were forced to field a makeshift back line with full backs Dani Alves and Jordi Alba out and Javier Mascherano on the bench.
The home side were gifted the lead when Fabregas was needlessly bundled over by Pape Diakhate,allowing Iniesta to place his penalty into the corner.
Granada’s Francisco Piti hit a powerful shot from 25 metres that cannoned off the crossbar midway through the first half with Jose Manuel Pinto well beaten.
Five minutes before the break,Iniesta was fouled in the box and this time Fabregas sent the keeper the wrong way to double the advantage. Pedro missed a good chance after the break but a second yellow card for the battling Iturra left Granada with a mountain to climb. Barca wrapped up a convincing win with Alexis finishing clinically from a Neymar pass before Pedro slid home the fourth goal with the Granada defence wide open.
Atletico’s success this season has …continued »