Ronaldo hero and villain for Real
Cristiano Ronaldo was the hero and villain for Real Madrid playing a pivotal role in their 4-2 comeback win over Almeria at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday, only to be sent off late on for violent conduct. Real bounced back from their 'Clasico' defeat against Barcelona with a win but it was far from easy as Real came from 2-1 down to maintain their perfect home record.
Ronaldo was at the heart of everything, winning a dubious 82nd minute penalty, which he subsequently missed, before substitute Karim Benzema rammed in the rebound. The former Manchester United man then scored his sixth goal of the season two minutes later to make it 4-2 before pressing the self-destruct button four minutes later by collecting a second yellow card for kicking Juanma Ortiz.
Sergio Ramos headed his first goal of the season to give Real a first half lead but Fernando Soriano equalised on 58 minutes and four minutes later Nigerian Kalu Uche put Almeria ahead to stun the hosts. Argentine Gonzalo Higuain levelled at 2-2 on 74 minutes and it fell to Benzema to put Real in the lead by rifling home Ronaldo's rebound from Alves's save. Ronaldo did not join in the celebrations, preferring to rue his miss alone.
Ronaldo then got his first goal since the end of September - when an ankle injury sidelined him - but somehow ruined his night by then getting sent off. The Portuguese star is now suspended for the next league match at title rivals Valencia, adding to Real's personnel problems with Brazilian Kaka struggling with a hernia injury that ruled him out of the Almeria game.
Five-point margin restored
Barcelona restablished their five-point gap later on Saturday with a 3-1 win at fifth-placed Deportivo La Coruna. Lionel Messi scored a brace with Zlatan Ibrahimovic adding a late strike after Adrian had grabbed a first-half equaliser for the home team. Earlier Sevilla dropped two vital points in a 1-1 draw at home against 10-man Valladolid and they mow trail Barcelona by nine points.
Sevilla host Rangers in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday looking to secure top spot in their group, having already qualified for the knockout stage. Real are also in UEFA Champions League action and need a point at Marseille on Wednesday to qualify for the last 16.
Elsewhere Atletico Madrid recorded a second consecutive victory with a 2-0 victory at 10-man strugglers Xerez to move away from the relegation battle and into mid-table. Atletico now turn their attention to Europe as they host FC Porto in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.
The capital side are already out of the competition but a first UEFA Champions League win of the season would see them parachute into the UEFA Europa League.