Ron­aldo dou­ble

> Real ex­tend lead, Sevilla up to sec­ond <

The Sun (Malaysia) - - 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 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 half­time 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.

Sevilla leapfrogged Barca into sec­ond with a 2-1 win over rel­e­ga­tion-threat­ened Va­len­cia.

How­ever, Barca can cut the gap back to four points on Madrid and re­take sec­ond place with a first win at Real So­ciedad in nine years later.

Barca also host Real Madrid in 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 hat­trick 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.

The opener ar­rived on five min­utes when Lu­cas Vazquez was naively chopped down by Ser­gio Al­varez 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 hat­trick 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 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.

Sevilla shrugged off the dis­ap­point­ment of a 3-1 home de­feat to Ju­ven­tus in the Cham­pi­ons League in mid­week to leave Va­len­cia still just two points above the rel­e­ga­tion zone at the Sanchez Pizjuan.

Af­ter a first-half short on chances, Eze­quiel Garay turned Vi­tolo’s cross into his own net just af­ter the break to give Sevilla the lead.

Sub­sti­tute Mu­nir El Had­dadi lev­elled for the vis­i­tors with a fine fin­ish with the out­side of his foot 12 min­utes later.

How­ever, Nico Pareja’s strike from out­side the area 15 min­utes from time kept Sevilla just six points off Madrid at the top of the ta­ble.

Ear­lier, Malaga and Es­panyol moved into the top half of the ta­ble with vic­to­ries over De­portivo la Coruna and Le­ganes re­spec­tively. – AFP

– AFPPIX

Real Madrid for­ward Cris­tiano Ron­aldo (top) falls over Sport­ing Gi­jon de­fender Lillo Castel­lano dur­ing the Span­ish league match at the San­ti­ago Bern­abeu Sta­dium in Madrid yes­ter­day.

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