Ron­aldo dou­ble ex­tends Real lead over Barcelona

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Cris­tiano Ron­aldo struck twice as Real Madrid were thank­ful to a late missed penalty from Duje Cop to open up a seven-point lead over Barcelona at the top of La Liga with a 2-1 win over Sport­ing Gi­jon yes­ter­day.

Madrid looked set for an easy af­ter­noon as Ron­aldo opened the scor­ing from the penalty spot be­fore he headed home a sec­ond in­side 20 min­utes. How­ever, Car­los Car­mona halved Sport­ing’s deficit 10 min­utes be­fore half-time and the strug­gling vis­i­tors were handed a huge chance for an un­ex­pected point 12 min­utes from time when Na­cho brought down Vic­tor Ro­driguez. Yet, Cop sent his penalty high and wide as Real held on amidst a tor­ren­tial down­pour to ex­tend their un­beaten run to 31 games in all com­pe­ti­tions. Barca can cut the gap back to four points when they travel to Real So­ciedad to­day ahead of the first Cla­sico of the sea­son be­tween Span­ish foot­ball’s two giants at the Camp Nou next week­end.

“It is a game for us to for­get be­cause things didn’t go as we would have liked,” said Madrid boss Zine­dine Zi­dane.

“We lacked a lit­tle bit of ev­ery­thing, but we are happy to get the three points which is the most im­por­tant thing.”

Fresh from net­ting a hat-trick against Atletico Madrid last week­end, Ron­aldo con­tin­ued his re­turn to scor­ing form with a quick­fire dou­ble to move ahead of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez as La Liga’s top scorer. Sport­ing had the first big chance to go in front when Car­mona fired wide with just goal­keeper Key­lor Navas to beat.

How­ever, they were quickly be­hind when Lu­cas Vazquez was naively chopped down by Ser­gio Al­varez on five min­utes and Ron­aldo em­phat­i­cally con­verted the re­sult­ing spot-kick.

The Por­tuguese’s sec­ond fin­ish was even more im­pres­sive as he buried Na­cho’s cross from the left with a pow­er­ful header that left Diego Marino no chance in the Sport­ing goal.

In be­tween times Ron­aldo had also headed waste­fully wide when un­marked from a cor­ner, while Marino par­ried an­other fierce ef­fort as the three-time World Player of the Year chased his 40th hat-trick for Madrid. In­stead, it was Sport­ing who halved the ar­rears be­fore half­time when a rare mis­placed pass from Luka Mo­dric al­lowed Isma Lopez to cross from the left and Car­mona’s out­stretched leg prod­ded the ball past Navas. In de­te­ri­o­rat­ing con­di­tions caused by the tor­ren­tial rain, Madrid strug­gled to get go­ing af­ter the break.

Zi­dane with­drew cap­tain Ser­gio Ramos with an eye on the Cla­sico against Barcelona next Satur­day with the Span­ish in­ter­na­tional a yel­low card away from miss­ing that game through sus­pen­sion. How­ever, that de­ci­sion nearly back­fired as Na­cho moved into cen­tral de­fence and quickly brought down Sport­ing sub­sti­tute Vic­tor Ro­driguez in­side the area. Cop par­doned Na­cho’s mis­take, though, as the Croa­t­ian lent back and sent the ball well wide of Navas’s goal much to the relief of thou­sands in­side the Bern­abeu. Ron­aldo should have com­pleted his hat-trick late on as he broke clear on goal, but his low shot was too close to Marino as Real had to see out a nervy fi­nal few min­utes to se­cure a sixth straight La Liga win.

A 10th straight game with­out a win leaves Sport­ing still rooted in the bot­tom three. —AFP

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MADRID: Real Madrid’s Ser­gio Ramos, cen­tre, at­tempts an over heard kick next to Sport­ing’s Car­los Car­mona, right, dur­ing a Span­ish La Liga soc­cer match be­tween Real Madrid and Sport­ing at the San­ti­ago Bern­abeu sta­dium in Madrid, yes­ter­day. Real Madrid won 2-1. —AP

LIVER­POOL: Liver­pool’s English mid­fielder James Mil­ner scores their sec­ond goal from the penalty spot dur­ing the English Premier League foot­ball match be­tween Liver­pool and Sun­der­land at An­field in Liver­pool, north west Eng­land yes­ter­day. —AFP

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