Image: Football Socer – Real Madrid v Sporting Gijon – Spanish La Liga Santander- Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid, Spain – 26/11/16 Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo runs with the ball past Sporting Gijon’s Manuel Castellano Castro “Lillo” and Ismael Lopez. REUTERS/Susana Vera
By Richard Martin
BARCELONA (Reuters) – Cristiano Ronaldo continued his rich vein of form by scoring twice in Real Madrid’s 2-1 home win over struggling Sporting Gijon on Saturday, although the La Liga leaders got a lucky break when the visitors squandered a second-half penalty.
The prolific Portuguese put Real ahead from the spot in the fifth minute and dived in to head the second in the 18th, claiming his eighth goal in four league games to go top of the scoring charts with 10 strikes this season.
Sevilla beat Valencia 2-1 to go second, while Espanyol picked up a first home win of the season by beating Leganes 3-0 and Malaga overcame a late fightback from Deportivo La Coruna to win 4-3.
Despite the early goals, Real struggled to control the game on a rainswept afternoon at the Bernabeu, and Carlos Carmona pulled one back for the visiting side 10 minutes before halftime.
Sporting had a golden opportunity to level in the 78th minute after Nacho was punished for a shove on Victor Rodriguez but Duje Cop sent the penalty sailing over the bar to hand Real a somewhat fortuitous sixth successive league victory.
Real top the standings on 33 points, six ahead of Sevilla in second and seven ahead of Barcelona, who visit Real Sociedad on Sunday.
“It was a game to forget for us because nothing went how we wanted it to. We lacked a bit of everything but we’re happy with the three points, which is the most important thing,” Real coach Zinedine Zidane told reporters.
“We can’t be happy with our display but sometimes this happens. Above all I’m annoyed because we had the game in our hands and their goal changed the game, they came out more motivated in the second half. The game got complicated but we can be happy by the fact we’re still top and unbeaten.”
Sporting went to the Bernabeu in the relegation zone and without a win in their last nine games but gave Real two early frights, Cop and Carmona squandering clear chances.
Ronaldo gave Real the lead by squeezing a penalty under the grasp of Diego Marino to add to his hat-trick in the 3-0 win over Atletico Madrid last week and did not have to wait long for his second, sliding in to nod home Nacho’s cross.
An uncharacteristically sloppy ball from Luka Modric led to Sporting striking back through Carmona and Real should have been punished further by Cop, but the Croatian lacked the composure needed to silence the Bernabeu and Real survived.
In Seville, an own goal by Ezequiel Garay put the home side ahead in the 53rd minute after an uneventful first half before Barcelona loanee Munir El Haddadi levelled in the 65th.
Jorge Sampaoli’s side restored their advantage through a low strike by Nicolas Pareja in the 75th minute although it took a brilliant save from Sergio Rico deep in stoppage time to deny Jose Gaya an equaliser and secure all three points for Sevilla.
Malaga marched into a 3-1 lead against Deportivo in the 55th minute after Celso Borges had scored first for the visiting side and the Costa Rica international levelled in the 81st after Florin Andone had claimed Depor’s second.
Substitute Ontiveros, however, had the final say, cutting inside and rounding two players before firing the ball into the far top corner to score his first professional goal.
Gerard Moreno gave a dominant Espanyol the lead against Leganes early in the second half, and a Pablo Piatti double sealed coach Quique Sanchez Flores’ first home win since taking charge of the Catalan club.
(Editing by Ed Osmond and Toby Davis)
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