Liga - Bale scores as Madrid shrug off Ronaldo absence

La Liga, Anoeta - Real Sociedad 0 Real Madrid 4 (Illarramendi 45, Bale 66, Pepe 85, Morata 88)

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Liga - Bale scores as Madrid shrug off Ronaldo absence
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SPAIN, San Sebastian : Real Madrid's players celebrate their first goal during the Spanish league football match Real Sociedad vs Real Madrid CF at the Anoeta stadium in San Sebastian on April 5, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ANDER GILLENEA

Real Madrid kept pace with title rivals Atletico Madrid and Barcelona by recording an impressive 4-0 win over Real Sociedad without Cristiano Ronaldo.

The result means there has been no change at the top of La Liga after the weekend’s round of games, with Los Blancos trailing pacesetters Atletico by three points and Barcelona by two.

Real Madrid struggled to create opportunities of any note in the first half, with Sociedad looking organized at the back and dangerous on the break through Carlos Vela and Antoine Griezmann.

However, Los Blancos claimed the lead just before half time, with former Sociedad player Asier Illarremendi knocking in the rebound from Karim Benzema’s powerful shot.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side emerged for the second half with fresh ideas and after ratting the crossbar twice they doubled their lead when Gareth Bale found the net from 30 yards, taking advantage of Claudio Bravo’s poor kick-out.

A rampant Real Madrid side made it 3-0 after 84 minutes, with Pepe volleying home from the edge of the six yard box, before Alvaro Morata added a fourth by rolling the ball underneath the keeper on the counter attack.

KEY EVENTS

15’ - SAVE - What a save! Lopez somehow manages to save Vela's shot from about three yeards but the flag is up for offside. That would have been a sensational save. The flick on at the near post from Griezmann was good, too.

44’ - OPENING GOAL - Benzema cuts inside and shoots at goal. His effort is saved but the former Sociedad man knocks in the rebound. It was meant to be. He doesn't celebrate.

49’ - WOODWORK - Off the bar! Alonso plays a wicked freekick delivery into the box for Ramos to attack, and boy does he attack it! He smashes a header off the bar with Bravo nowhere near the ball. Fantastic effort.

65’ - WOODWORK AGAIN - Oh wow! Real Madrid hit the crossbar for the second time tonight, this time through Benzema. The French striker wound up a shot from 25 yards and with his left foot smashed the woodwork. The keeper was beaten!

66’ - GOAL - That could be a huge goal for Real Madrid and it's come from a huge mistake by Bravo! His kick out was poor and Bale took advantage of his poor position to finish into the empty net.

84’ - GOAL - Fantastic goal! Ramos heads the corner kick across goal for his defensive partner Pepe to volley home from the edge of the six yard box.

88’ - GOAL - Di Maria plays a great pass from deep to thread through Morata, who has the pace to beat his man and sticks the ball underneath Bravo.

KEY STATS

Gareth Bale is the only player to have scored and assisted 15 goals in La Liga this season.

Bale also has 18 goals and 15 assists in all competitions for Real Madrid this season.

Real Madrid have hit the woodwork more than any other team in La Liga this season.

TALKING POINT

Real Madrid can cope without Cristiano Ronaldo. When Ronaldo was left off the teamsheet there were concerns over whether Real Madrid could get by without their biggest goal threat. However, Real have won seven of the nine games they’ve played without the Portuguese winger this season, and tonight showed they’re still a confident and accomplished team without Ronaldo.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Asier Illarramendi (Real Madrid): Returning to his former club, Illarramendi was booed by the home fans every time he touched the ball. But he responded in the best possible way, by turning in one of his best performances in a Real Madrid shirt and scoring the crucial first goal just before the break.

PLAYER RATINGS

Real Sociedad: Bravo 4, Martinez 5, Gonzalez 6, Martinez 5, Angel 6, Markel 5, Elustondo 5, Canales 4, Zurutuza 4, Vela 6, Griezmann 7. .

Real Madrid: Lopez 5, Carvajal 7, Pepe 7, Ramos 7, Nacho 6, Alonso 6, Modric 6, Illarramendi 8, Bale 8, Isco 7, Benzema 6.

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