Cristiano Ronaldo shook off his fatigue and poor form to score twice in Real Madrid’s 4-1 home thrashing of Real Sociedad Sunday.
Real, who have won every home match this season, are now seven points behind runaway leaders Barcelona. On Saturday Barca thrashed Atletico Madrid 3-0 and thus established a new record of 16 straight league wins.
Kaka, making a rare start, made it 1-0 for Real after just eight minutes with a left-foot drive, after defender Gorka Elustondo had made a mess of a centre from Alvaro Arbeloa.
Then Ronaldo, who had not scored for four games, took centre stage. The Portuguese idol made it 2-0 with his left foot after a clever one-two with Kaka. Then he headed in a corner from Mesut Oezil just before half-time, to make it 3-0.
Ronaldo is now level in the scorers’ chart on 24 goals with Barca’s Lionel Messi, who hit a handsome hat-trick Saturday against Atletico.
Real looked tired in the second half as a result of Wednesday’s King’s Cup exertions against Sevilla. Even so, Ronaldo came close to completing his hat-trick on three occasions, and Kaka hit the crossbar with a fierce drive.
Arbeloa gave Sociedad a consolation goal 19 minutes from time by turning a rebound from keeper Iker Casillas into his own goal. But then newboy Emmanuel Adeboayor sent the crowd home happy by turning in a centre from Angel Di Maria to make it 4-1.
Adebayor, on loan from Manchester City, also scored in the 2-0 cup defeat of Sevilla, and is becoming a popular figure at the Estadio Bernabeu.
Sevilla’s woes continued earlier on Sunday, with a 0-0 home draw against bottom team Malaga. The dull draw leaves Luis Fabiano and company stranded in seventh place, far away from the European berths.
Sevilla dominated possession but, as so often this season, lacked a cutting edge. The Malaga defence, which was well marshalled by Martin Demichelis, had few problems in keeping the hosts at bay.
Malaga, who made six January signings, are still bottom, with just 18 points from 22 games. Then come Almeria on 20, Levante on 21, and five teams on 22: Deportivo Coruna, Racing Santander, Hercules, Osasuna and Sporting Gijon.
Sunday’s late game was due to bring together fourth-placed Valencia and Hercules. Valencia are four points behind third-placed Villarreal but three ahead of Athletic Bilbao, who moved up to fifth Saturday by thrashing Sporting Gijon 3-0.