Ronaldo injured, Bale nets in Madrid rout

AFP, MADRID

Mon, Nov 25, 2013 - Page 18

Cristiano Ronaldo was forced off with a slight thigh strain having opened the scoring and Gareth Bale was also on target as Real Madrid won 5-0 at UD Almeria to remain six points behind Barcelona at the top of La Liga.

Barcelona made light work of their own injury problems, as despite Lionel Messi’s absence they cruised to a 4-0 win over Granada at the Camp Nou, while Atletico Madrid remained second after crushing Getafe 7-0.

Ronaldo had taken less than three minutes to register his 14th goal in his past seven games for club and country as he flicked home Isco’s cross to give Madrid the lead.

However, he then had to be replaced by Jese Rodriguez just six minutes into the second half when he hobbled off down the tunnel.

Despite losing their star man, Madrid were rampant in the final half an hour as Karim Benzema made the game safe, before Bale, Isco and Alvaro Morata rounded off the scoring.

Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti was confident that Ronaldo’s injury would not keep him sidelined for a significant period of time.

“I don’t think it is serious because he is not in pain. It is a muscle strain, so I hope he will be fine soon. Tomorrow there will be more tests, but we don’t think it is a big problem,” Ancelotti said.

Having scored a hat-trick against Sweden to guarantee Portugal’s place in the World Cup finals last week, Ronaldo continued his scoring streak as he flicked home Isco’s low cross from the right.

Benzema ensured there was little time for Almeria to take encouragement from Ronaldo’s absence when he curled home a long-range strike two minutes after the former Manchester United man had been forced off.

Bale then slotted home his fourth goal in five games from close range as he took advantage of some sloppy defending by the hosts.

More was to come from Madrid as Isco then fired home from long range and substitute Morata completed the rout with a dinked finish over goalkeeper Esteban 10 minutes from time.

Earlier, Barca continued their 100 percent home record this season with a 4-0 victory over 10-man Granada.

First-half penalties from Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas put the Catalans in command at the break.

The visitors were then left to play the final quarter of the game a man down after Manuel Iturra was shown a second yellow card.

Alexis Sanchez added a third soon after from Neymar’s pass, before Pedro Rodriguez rounded off the scoring a minute from time.

With Victor Valdes, Xavi Hernandez, Dani Alves and Jordi Alba also out injured, Barca boss Gerardo Martino was forced into making seven changes from the side that started their last outing against Real Betis Balompie two weeks previously.

However, Martino reiterated his belief that Barca have an ample enough squad to cope with such a number of key absentees.

“Some of the best players, like Leo or Victor, are missing, but all the players are very good. Those that can play just now are very good, so I don’t see it as a different match. It was a game in which we had some difficulties, but there was no motive for us not to play a good game,” Martino said. “We have to work out how to win every game we are faced with and the best thing we can do is wait for Leo, Victor, Jordi, Dani, Xavi while winning, so that the team gains confidence and so they don’t have to come back in a week or a month with the extra pressure of begin the saviors of the team. The thing that I will never do is make excuses.”

Atletico remain just three points behind Barca as they hammered Getafe at the Vicente Calderon.

Raul Garcia and a Lopo own-goal put the hosts 2-0 up before the break.

After Juan Valera’s red card had seen the visitors reduced to 10 men, David Villa bundled home from close range, before Garcia headed home his second of the evening.

Diego Simeone then introduced Diego Costa on his return from injury and he took just eight minutes to produce a stunning overhead-kick into the top corner for Atletico’s fifth.

Villa then tapped home his second, before Adrian Lopez completed the scoring in stoppage-time.

The individual performance of the evening came from Real Sociedad’s Carlos Vela as he scored four times as the Basques came back from 3-1 down to beat 10-man RC Celta de Vigo 4-3 at the Estadio Anoeta.