Madrid beats Real Sociedad to increase Spanish league lead
ABS-CBN Sports on Jan 30, 2017 10:33 AM
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring his side's second goal against Real Sociedad during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
TALES AZZONI, AP Sports Writer
MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid saw its rivals falter and then did its part against Real Sociedad, winning 3-0 with a goal and an assist by Cristiano Ronaldo to increase its lead in the Spanish league.
Madrid opened a four-point gap on Barcelona and Sevilla, which failed to win their matches earlier Sunday.
Second-placed Barcelona needed a late equalizer by Luis Suarez to draw at Real Betis 1-1, while 10-man Sevilla lost 3-1 at Espanyol.
Fourth-placed Atletico Madrid was held to a scoreless draw at promoted Alaves on Saturday, staying 10 points off the lead.
Madrid's advantage could become even bigger as it has a game in hand at Valencia.
"We are not thinking about what the other teams are doing," Madrid midfielder Casemiro said. "We have to do our part and keep winning."
Ronaldo set up Mateo Kovacic's opening goal with a clever through ball in the 38th minute, then scored himself with a neat chip shot over the charging goalkeeper in the 51st.
Alvaro Morata netted the third with a diving header in the 82nd, only 10 minutes after he had a goal disallowed for offside.
Ronaldo, who was jeered by some fans early in the match at Santiago Bernabeu stadium, also had a goal disallowed for offside in the 90th.
Real Sociedad played a man down from the 74th as Inigo Martinez was shown a second yellow card for a hard foul on Casemiro.
It was the fourth win in the last five league games for Madrid, which was coming off elimination against Celta Vigo in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals.
REAL BETIS 1, BARCELONA 1
Lionel Messi set up Luis Suarez's 90th-minute equalizer to help Barcelona salvage a draw at Real Betis.
"This result wasn't in our plans, but we have the entire second half of the league still to play and we have to keep putting pressure on the teams ahead of us," Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said. "The most consistent team at the end will win. It feels like we won a point today."
Barcelona was outplayed during most of the match, and the hosts opened the scoring in the 73rd minute after goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen failed to deal with a corner. Betis forward Alex Alegria got to the loose ball and easily scored from in front of the goal.
Betis had a few good chances to put the game away. The best one came when striker Ruben Castro broke free in the 80th but couldn't beat the goalkeeper from close range.
"We had more chances but we couldn't capitalize on them," Alegria said. "It's never a bad result to draw against Barcelona, but after the game that we played today, it's a shame that we didn't get the victory."
Barcelona should have been awarded an earlier equalizer when the ball clearly crossed the goal line before being cleared by a defender.
The ball was nearly a meter (yard) inside the goal but the linesman ruled that it didn't go in. Another similar play happened just a few moments later, but on this occasion the ball appeared to be on the goal line when it was cleared by a defender.
The defending champion finally equalized after Messi stole the ball outside the box and immediately sent a perfect through ball to Suarez, who found the low right corner as goalkeeper Antonio Adan charged from the net.
"It took us too long to get going," said Suarez, who scored his league-leading 16th goal. "We have to admit that we didn't play a very good match."
ESPANYOL 3, SEVILLA 1
Sevilla could have provisionally moved into first place had it won earlier at Espanyol, but it had to play nearly the entire game with a man down as Nicolas Pareja was sent off in the second minute after conceding a penalty.
Jose Antonio Reyes converted the penalty to put the hosts ahead, and Gerard Moreno and Marc Navarro added goals for Espanyol after Sevilla equalized through Stevan Jovetic.
"The red card that early changed the game completely," Sevilla defender Sergio Escudero said.
The result snapped Sevilla's five-game winning streak in the league.
It was Espanyol's second consecutive victory, leaving the club from Barcelona in ninth place.
ATHLETIC BILBAO 2, SPORTING GIJON 1
Seventh-placed Athletic halted a three-game winless streak with a come-from-behind victory over relegation-wary Sporting Gijon.
Veteran striker Aritz Aduriz scored the winner by converting a penalty kick in the 71st minute at San Mames Stadium.
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni