Cristiano Ronaldo scores twice in Real Madrid win

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice from the penalty spot as Real Madrid recorded a 4-1 win over Valencia in Saturday afternoon’s pulsating La Liga clash at the Mestalla.
The result has seen Madrid move to within two points of third-placed Valencia, but the Spanish champions are still 16 points off league leaders Barcelona.
It was the perfect response to the club’s shock Copa del Rey elimination to Leganes on Wednesday night.
Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale started together for Los Blancos for the first time since April 2017, but Sergio Ramos missed out for the visitors.
Valencia, meanwhile, had former Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin at centre-back due to the absences of Ruben Vezo and Gabriel Paulista, who were both suspended.
Real Madrid had a super chance to take the lead in the seventh minute when the ball fell kindly for Bale inside the Valencia box, but the Welshman could only fire straight at Neto.
Rodrigo had Valencia’s first sight of the Real Madrid goal in the 10th minute, and the forward’s powerful effort was not too far away from the target.
Valencia were undone on the counter in the 15th minute, however, with Real Madrid winning a penalty when Ronaldo was brought to the ground by Martin Montoya. The number seven stepped up to send his spot kick past Neto as Real Madrid took a 16th-minute lead at the Mestalla.
The home side came close to levelling the scores in the 28th minute when Geoffrey Kondogbia was given the freedom of the Real Madrid penalty box, but the Frenchman saw his effort beaten away by Keylor Navas.
Kondogbia had an even better chance to level 10 minutes before the break, but the midfielder had a fresh-air shot when the away side were struggling to clear the ball.
Valencia conceded another penalty in the 37th minute, however, when Montoya bundled into the back of Benzema inside the penalty box; Ronaldo again stepped forward, and it was the same outcome as the Portuguese slotted past Neto.
Rodrigo just lifted the ball too high of Real Madrid’s crossbar as Valencia looked to hit back late in the first period, but the visitors entered the break with a two-goal advantage.
After a bright start to the second half from Valencia, Real Madrid had a chance to grab a third in the 54th minute when Ronaldo fed Benzema inside the box, but the striker ultimately hit the side-netting.
Valencia were back in the match just before the hour, however, when Santi Mina rose highest inside the box to head a Dani Parejo corner into the Real Madrid goal.
Parejo brought a wonderful save from Navas in the 66th minute as Valencia looked for the equaliser, before Rodrigo just missed the post with a low effort. Ronaldo then had a super chance to score a third as he met a low cross from Bale, but Valencia goalkeeper Neto made an excellent save.
Both managers made changes in the period that followed, with Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio coming off the Real Madrid bench, while Simone Zaza and Andreas Pereira entered for the home side.
Ronaldo fired over the Valencia crossbar in the 82nd minute as Madrid passed up another chance to score a third, but the Spanish champions did make it 3-1 two minutes later when Marcelo played a one-two with Asensio before firing the ball through the legs of Neto.

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