A clinical 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 thrashing by leaders Barcelona last weekend, and put them six points behind the MSN led team.
The Welshman scored 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 makes Rafa Benitez a little more comfortable 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.