Spanish La Liga Roundup, Feb. 6
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a double to lead Real Madrid to a 4-1 win over Real Sociedad on Sunday as the Spanish giants stayed seven points behind league leader Barcelona.
Jose Mourinho's team had to win after its fierce rivals opened up a 10-point gap through their league-record 16th straight win on Saturday.
Madrid responded to the challenge with a convincing performance to stay perfect in 11 games at Santiago Bernabeu stadium this season.
"We know our margin of error is limited," said Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso, who started his career with Sociedad. "The important thing is the victory and to keep earning points."
Kaka opened the scoring in the eighth minute, placing a left-footed shot into the far corner after Sociedad midfielder Gorka Elustondo had erred in clearing a cross and the ball fell to the Brazil playmaker in the area.
Ronaldo blasted in the second in the 21st, feinting with his right, before crossing to his left and firing in from outside the area and ending his four-game scoring drought.
The Portugal forward then headed home a corner by Mesut Oezil in the 42nd, and Emmanuel Adebayor capped the win in the 89th with his first league goal since joining Madrid on loan from Manchester City.
Real Sociedad got its consolation goal when a shot by Raul Tamudo was blocked by goalkeeper Iker Casillas but rebounded off Alvaro Arbeloa and into the net in the 72nd.
Casillas played his part in Madrid's victory by twice denying Tamudo from point-blank range in the first half.
Mourinho said he was focusing on his own team's performance, rather than catching Barcelona.
"I am here to end in first place, but if we end up second, it's not a problem," he said. "The only thing we can't do is give away the competition."
Elsewhere, Valencia beat Hercules 2-0, while Sevilla and Malaga drew 0-0 in a dull Andalusian derby as both teams let important points slip.
After dropping five of its last nine points and struggling to score, Mourinho deployed his most attacking starting 11 of the season with Ronaldo and Kaka playing alongside Oezil, and Adebayor leading the attack.
The new-look lineup showed immediate results, Kaka sending a shot just wide of the left post 20 seconds in. And the former AC Milan star soon put his team ahead.
Sociedad looked to counterattack and came close to surprising the hosts moments after Kaka's opener, Casillas spilling a cross but quickly recovering to make a great save of a strike by Tamudo.
After a week of speculation about Ronaldo's form, he answered his critics by peppering Sociedad's goal with shots and made it 2-0 before Casillas again saved a stabbed shot from Tamudo from inside the six-yard box.
"Going into halftime up 3-0 was very good and (Casillas) was largely responsible for that," Alonso said.
Ronaldo's second pulled him level with Lionel Messi on 24 goals in their personal duel to be top scorer. Messi had provisionally moved ahead of Ronaldo with his hat trick against Atletico Madrid on Saturday. Ronaldo has 34 goals in all competitions, compared to Messi's 40.
Madrid could have made a rout of it in the second half. Ronaldo came close to a a third, Kaka hit the crossbar and Oezil had a goal disallowed for offside.
At Mestalla stadium, Aritz Aduriz scored Valencia's opener two minutes before halftime, controlling a pass by strike partner Roberto Soldado and tapping past goalkeeper Juan Calatayud for his ninth goal of the season.
Tino Costa made it 2-0 with a curling left-footed free kick in the 53rd.
With its sixth win in seven games, Valencia closed to within one point of third-place Villarreal, while Hercules slumped to a fourth straight defeat.
After an uneventful first half at Sanchez Pizjuan stadium, Sevilla improved following the restart but could not break through as Alexis Ruano and Frederic Kanoute missed clear-cut chances.
Malaga's best scoring opportunity came near the final whistle, when Sevilla goalkeeper Andres Palop had to save Weligton's header.
Sevilla moved into seventh place but remained six points away from the Europa League positions.
"These slip ups are moving us farther away from our goal (of playing in Europe next season)," said Sevilla coach Gregorio Manzano. "We have to try harder to convert our scoring chances."
Last-place Malaga fell four points from safety as its relegation rivals- Levante and Almeria- won this week.