Ronaldo birthday brace beats Sociedad
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrated his birthday and brought an end to his recent mini-goal drought with a brace as Real Madrid comfortably saw off Real Sociedad at the Bernabeu tonight.
Ronaldo, who turned 26 yesterday, had failed to score in his previous four appearances - his worst spell since joining the club - but he was amongst the goals again today as Madrid moved back to within seven points of leaders Barcelona. Kaka gave Jose Mourinho's side the ideal start when he opened the scoring early on, and then Ronaldo added two more goals before half-time, netting in the 21st and 42nd minutes.
Sociedad pulled a goal back midway through the second half when the ball rebounded in off Madrid defender Alvaro Arbeloa, but the hosts added a fourth late on through Emmanuel Adebayor, who scored his second goal in three appearances since joining the Spanish giants on loan.
With Barça moving ten points clear with their 3-0 win over Atletico Madrid last night, Madrid would have been desperate for a good start tonight, and Kaka and Ronaldo both tried their luck from distance early on. Neither of those efforts were on target, but Kaka made no mistake in the eighth minute when he picked up a poor attempted clearance by Gorka Elustondo on the edge of the Sociedad area before curling a left-footed shot past Claudio Bravo.
Ronaldo returns to routine scoring
Madrid almost conceded an immediate equaliser when Iker Casillas palmed a cross straight to Raul Tamudo, but the Spain number one redeemed himself with a superb block to deny the veteran striker. The home side then took a firm grip on the match by going 2-0 ahead when Ronaldo created space for himself just outside the box and drilling a low shot past Bravo.
Madrid created further openings through Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil before Casillas produced another superb save to keep out Tamudo's flick in the 40th minute. A Sociedad goal then could have made things interesting, but two minutes later Madrid were 3-0 up and the game as good as over. Ozil curled in a corner from the right and Ronaldo climbed on the edge of the six-yard box to power in his 24th league goal of the season.
The start of the second half suggested Madrid could be set to record a big victory, with Ronaldo firing wide and Kaka thumping a shot against the crossbar in the opening minutes. However, the chances started to dry up for the hosts after that and they were given something of a wake-up call in the 71st minute when Sociedad pulled a goal back.
Tamudo was denied for the third time by a great save by Casillas, but unfortunately for the Madrid captain the ball ricocheted into his team-mate Arbeloa and went over the line. That gave Sociedad a glimmer of hope, but in truth they never really troubled Madrid after that and the hosts had a number of half-chances to increase their lead before Adebayor made it 4-1 in the 89th minute with a cool side-footed finish.