James Rodriguez stunner sets Real Madrid on course for victory
Almeria overhauled as Real close gap on Barcelona to two points
Real Madrid’s Alvaro Arbeloa gets a touch before Ronaldo to score his side’s third goal in the La Liga match against Almeria at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. Photo: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
Real Madrid 3 Almeria 0
Real Madrid kept alive their hopes of overhauling La Liga leaders Barcelona when a James Rodriguez stunner set them on their way to a serene home victory over struggling Almeria on Wednesday.
Barca, chasing a fifth Spanish league title in seven years, thrashed Getafe 6-0 at the Nou Camp on Tuesday and have a two-point advantage with four matches remaining.
Almeria held out against their illustrious opponents until the stroke of halftime at the Bernabeu when Rodriguez pounced on a loose ball and lashed a shot into the top corner from just outside the penalty area.
The European champions, depleted by injuries to forwards Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, doubled their lead four minutes after half-time when Mauro Dos Santos diverted the ball into his own net under pressure from La Liga top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese forward was unable to add to his tally and stayed on 39 for the season, one more than Barca’s Lionel Messi who struck twice on Tuesday.
Full back Alvaro Arbeloa netted a rare goal to make it 3-0 five minutes from time, his third in 167 La Liga games for Real, when he turned the ball past goalkeeper Ruben Martinez from a Javier Hernandez centre.
Europa League holders Sevilla climbed above Valencia into fourth when Rodriguez’s Colombia team-mate Carlos Bacca struck twice in a 3-1 success at La Liga debutants Eibar.
Malaga’s hopes of catching sixth-placed Villarreal and securing a place in the Europa League suffered a setback when they lost 1-0 at Celta Vigo.