Bale and Ronaldo on target as Real beat Eibar
BARCELONA: A Gareth Bale header and a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty gave Real Madrid a much-needed 2-0 victory over Eibar in La Liga on Sunday, following their hammering by leaders Barcelona last weekend, and put them six points off the top of the standings.
The Welshman notched up his first goal since the end of August when he nodded in a Luka Modric cross two minutes before halftime against the small Basque club who have surprised this season and went into the game with one defeat from eight matches.
Real were made to work hard against a battling Eibar but Ronaldo secured the win with a penalty after 82 minutes following a foul by Dani Garcia on Lucas Vazquez.
The win eases the pressure on coach Rafa Benitez following defeats in La Liga against Sevilla and in the 'Clasico' last Saturday where they lost 4-0.
Third-placed Real now have 27 points from 13 games, two behind Atletico Madrid, while Barca have 33 points.
"We have been through a difficult moment, it has been hard for all of us and we all have to improve," Real keeper Keylor Navas told reporters.
"These three points are important to help us fight for what we want which is titles and now we need to keep improving."
Real had a makeshift defence with Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Marcelo all out injured and so Pepe and Nacho Fernandez were in the centre with Danilo on the left.
It was a clash between clubs from different ends of the football spectrum with Real the richest in the world by income against Eibar who have a budget this season of 32 million euros ($33.9 million), but on the pitch the difference was slim.
Eibar employed their typical pressing game, looking to prevent Real from settling and pouncing on the counter.
Ronaldo broke the offside trap but keeper Asier Riesgo stood tall and blocked his shot after 15 minutes and then Mateo Kovacic blazed the rebound over the crossbar.
A near-post header from Bale put Real in front and he was close to adding to the lead when he pulled down a long ball but his strike when stretching was blocked by Riesgo.
Eibar went close with Sergi Enrich and Aleksandar Pantic both heading narrowly over the crossbar while Ronaldo had another excellent chance to score when he shot wide inside the area after 72 minutes.
He got his goal 10 minutes later by sending Asier the wrong way from the penalty spot.
A fine Sergio Escudero volley gave Sevilla a 1-0 victory over Valencia, who finished with nine men, to ease the pressure on coach Unai Emery.
In a clash between two underperforming sides, Sevilla carried the greater attacking threat with Fernando Llorente shooting wide in front of goal before having a header well saved by keeper Mathew Ryan.
Sevilla became increasingly dominant following the dismissal of Joao Cancelo for a second yellow card after 35 minutes and the deadlock was finally broken with a volley by Escudero who connected sweetly with an Ever Banega cross after 50 minutes.
Valencia's frustration showed when midfielder Javi Fuego was also given his marching orders after 78 minutes for a second yellow card.
Both sides qualified for the Champions League last season but have struggled in this campaign. Valencia are ninth with 19 points, while Sevilla are a point and a place behind.
Getafe's Angel Lafita scored one goal and set up another for Alvaro Vazquez in a 2-0 victory over misfiring Villarreal, who now have just one win in seven La Liga matches.
Villarreal have lost their way after a bright start to the season and lie sixth on 21 points, behind Deportivo La Coruna on goal difference, while Getafe are 13th and level with Rayo Vallecano on 14 points.