Cristiano Ronaldo continued his rich vein of form by scoring twice in Real Madrid’s 2-1 home win over struggling Sporting Gijon on Saturday, although the La Liga leaders got a lucky break when the visitors squandered a second-half penalty.
The prolific Portuguese put Real ahead from the spot in the fifth minute and dived in to head the second in the 18th, claiming his eighth goal in four league games to go top of the scoring charts with 10 strikes this season.
Despite the early goals, Real struggled to control the game on a rainswept afternoon at the Bernabeu, and Carlos Carmona pulled one back for the visiting side 10 minutes before halftime.
Sporting had a golden opportunity to level in the 78th minute after Nacho was punished for a shove on Victor Rodriguez but Duje Cop sent the penalty sailing over the bar to hand Real a somewhat fortuitous sixth successive league victory.
Real top the standings on 33 points, seven ahead of Barcelona, who visit Real Sociedad on Sunday. Sevilla, third on 24 points, host Valencia later on Saturday.
“It was a game to forget for us because nothing went how we wanted it to. We lacked a bit of everything but we’re happy with the three points, which is the most important thing,” Real coach Zinedine Zidane told reporters.
“We can’t be happy with our display but sometimes this happens. Above all I’m annoyed because we had the game in our hands and their goal changed the game, they came out more motivated in the second half. The game got complicated but we can be happy by the fact we’re still top and unbeaten.”
Sporting went to the Bernabeu in the relegation zone and without a win in their last nine games but gave Real two early frights, Cop and Carmona squandering clear chances.
The league leaders quickly made them pay.
Standing in for the injured Gareth Bale, Lucas Vazquez won a penalty after being tripped by Sergio Alvarez.
Ronaldo squeezed the penalty under the grasp of Diego Marino to add to his hat-trick in the 3-0 win over Atletico Madrid last week and did not have to wait long for his second, sliding in to nod home Nacho’s cross.
An uncharacteristically sloppy ball from Luka Modric led to Sporting striking back, Carmona turning Isma Lopez’s cross past Keylor Navas after Moi Gomez had robbed Real’s Croatian maestro.
Ronaldo and Karim Benzema spurned chances to seal the points against a dogged Sporting side and should have been punished by Cop, but the Croatian lacked the composure needed to silence the Bernabeu and Real survived.
Earlier on Saturday, Malaga overcame a late fightback from Deportivo La Coruna to win 4-3 thanks to a brilliant stoppage-time goal from 19-year-old Javier Ontiveros.
Malaga marched into a 3-1 lead in the 55th minute after Celso Borges had scored first for the visiting side and the Costa Rica international levelled in the 81st after Florin Andone had claimed Depor’s second.
Substitute Ontiveros, however, had the final say, cutting inside and rounding two players before firing the ball into the far top corner to score his first professional goal.