Ronaldo scores twice but Real remain 16 points adrift of Barca


SPAIN:Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice to earn 10-man Real Madrid a 4-3 win over Real Sociedad after goalkeeper Antonio Adan was sent off in the sixth minute, but they remained 16 points adrift of Barcelona in La Liga yesterday.

Barca welcomed coach Tito Vilanova back to the dugout after a throat operation just over two weeks ago, and he watched his side destroy Espanyol in the opening half hour at the Nou Camp, taking a 4-0 lead that would be the final score.

Two goals from Pedro and one apiece by Lionel Messi and Xavi secured their 17th victory in 18 games this season.

For the second game in a row Jose Mourinho courted controversy by dropping captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas to the bench, but the Spain international was soon in action at the Bernabeu after Adan was shown a straight red card.

Casillas was unable to save Xabi Prieto’s ensuing spot-kick which cancelled out Karim Benzema’s second-minute strike.

Although Prieto grabbed two more for the Basque side, Sami Khedira and Real’s leading scorer Ronaldo secured the points to end a run of three games without a win for Mourinho’s misfiring side.

The Bernabeu was buzzing with the news that Adan was in the starting line-up at the expense of fan favourite Casillas, behind a patched-up defence shorn of the suspended Sergio Ramos and the injured Pepe, Marcelo and Fabio Coentrao.

Real, with Ronaldo wearing the captain’s armband, quickly took the lead when Khedira fed Benzema in the area and the France striker turned to score.

The game had barely settled down when Adan misplaced a pass, raced out to correct his error and brought down Carlos Vela for a penalty. Adan was sent off and Casillas was brought on to chants of “Iker, Iker” from the home fans. He failed to save the spot kick but was thankful to Khedira, who back-heeled home, and Ronaldo, who scored his second from a free kick.

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