Ronaldo brace helps Real to derby win

MADRID, Jan 4, 2011 (AFP) - Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 18th and 19th league goals of the season as Real Madrid started 2011 with a tense 3-2 win at derby rivals Getafe on Monday to close to within two points of champions Barcelona at the league summit.

Portuguese star Ronaldo smashed home an 11th-minute penalty to open the scoring before Angel di Maria set up German international Mesut Ozil for a second on 19 minutes.

Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during the match Getafe vs Real Madrid on January 3, 2011. AFP

Ronaldo grabbed his second on 57 minutes after Getafe had got a foothold in the game with a goal from Madrid old boy Daniel Parejo and Real notched their sixth consecutive win in all competitions, surviving a late scare after Juan Albin pulled another goal back for Getafe six minutes from time.

Barcelona had defeated Levante 2-1 at home on Sunday to record an 11th straight league win with Pedro Rodriguez scoring both goals.

Real had first choice centre-backs Pepe and Ricardo Carvalho suspended so Spanish internationals Raul Albiol and Sergio Ramos were the makeshift partnership in central defence.

With Argentine sriker Gonzalo Higuain out injured for the season, French forward Karim Benzema has a lifeline to resurrect his Real career and started against Getafe.

Real got off to the perfect start in 2011 winning a penalty in the 11th minute with Angel di Maria going down after having his shirt tugged by Jose Mane.

Ronaldo stepped up and smashed an unstoppable spot-kick into the left hand corner for his 18th goal of the campaign.

Di Maria was the provider for the second goal eight minutes later sliding a brilliant pass to Ozil, who rounded the goalkeeper and rolled into an empty net.

Madrid had thumped Levante 8-0 in the Kings Cup in their last match prior to Christmas. However, Getafe showed much more resilience and pulled a goal back on 28 minutes through Madrid old boy Daniel Parejo.

The 21-year-old Parejo, who Real farmed out to English side QPR on loan before selling him to Getafe, sneaked past two Real players before curling in a fine shot.

Getafe were on a run of four straight league wins and came out full of belief in the second half, but a defensive error proved costly as Benzema fed Ronaldo to slot home his second on 57 minutes.

With a two-goal cushion Real coach Jose Mourinho brought on Brazilian star Kaka on 73 minutes with the former AC Milan man playing his first game of the season having been sidelined since July with a knee injury sustained at the World Cup.

Real were reduced to ten men when defender Alvaro Arbeloa collected a second yellow card for handball on 80 minutes and four minutes later Albin scored for the hosts following a mistake from Marcelo.

Madrid players were calling for the final whistle as they held on for three points that should have been much more comfortable.

Earlier on Monday Villarreal made it eight league wins from nine at home defeating lowly Almeria 2-0 at El Madrigal to move five points clear of fourth-placed Valencia.

Centre-back Jose Catala finished off a Borja Valero set-piece on 22 minutes and Valero curled in a 58th free-kick to get himself on the scoresheet to seal a win that keeps them nestled in third.

Almeria, who have scored just five goals on the road, fall to second from bottom, two points from safety.

Villarreal have a challenging week ahead of them, facing Valencia on Thursday in the last 16 of the Kings Cup and then travelling to Real Madrid at the weekend for a crunch league test at the Santiago Bernabeu.

In other matches, Atletico Madrid dropped two points in their bid for a Champions League place drawing 0-0 with Racing Santander on Monday.

Atletico go up to sixth in the table but lose pace on Valencia, 2-1 winners over Espanyol, who are four points ahead in fourth.

Elsewhere Real Zaragoza moved off the bottom with a sensational late 2-1 home win over Real Sociedad on Monday.

It was a first win in charge of Zaragoza for Mexican coach Javier Aguirre with Braulio's 90th-minute winner lifting the club two places as Sporting Gijon replaced them at the bottom.

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