Ronaldo sees red as Real Madrid clinch victory

By Mark Carter
(Photo: José Porras)

(Photo: José Porras)

Real Madrid 4 -2 Almeria

Ronaldo missed a penalty and netted Real’s fourth before being sent off at the death as Real bounced back from ‘El Clasico’ defeat to clinch a 4-2 victory over Almeria on Saturday night.

The ‘Galacticos II’ made hard work of their opponents and the side that are currently languishing around the La Liga drop zone fired themselves into a shock 2-1 lead by scoring a quick-fire double on the hour mark.

Real’s class eventually shone through with Gonzalo Higuain levelling the score before Karim Benzema and Ronaldo completed the scoring in an eventful finale that saw the world’s most expensive player receive his marching orders for petulantly lashing out at Juan Ortiz.

The signs began ominously for Almeria and Ronaldo should have earned his side an early lead after Rafael Van der Vaart sent him clear on goal but his first-time effort was hit straight at Almeria goalkeeper Diego Alves and the Brazilian thwarted the attack – leaving Ronaldo punching the air in frustration.

Almeria were forced to weather the storm as Real attacked in droves in search of the opening goal with Van der Vaart proving influential early on.

Both Higuain and Esteban Granero spurned opportunities to score before Sergio Ramos leapt highest to head home Ronaldo’s inch-perfect cross shortly after the half-hour mark.

Minutes later, Real were denied a second after Alves pulled off a fantastic double-save. The 24-year-old stopper was a match to his fellow countryman Marcelo’s stinging 20-yard effort and showed great instincts to block Higuain’s follow up before the Argentine striker was ruled offside.

Despite dominating the first half, Manuel Pellegrini’s side had failed to kill the game off and were made to pay on 58 minutes.

Ramos failed to close down Albert Crusat on the left flank and his cross was helped on by Alvaro Arbeloa’s lazy attempt of a clearance, falling kindly to Fernando Soriano whose strike deflected against Raul Albiol before nestling into the corner.

Almeria, coached by former Real legend Hugo Sanchez, grew in confidence and stunned the capacity crowd in their boss’s former stomping ground by snatching the lead just four minutes later.

Nigerian striker Kalu Uche picked up the loose ball from an Almeria corner and did well to manoeuvre his body to poke the ball past the out-stretched palm of Iker Casillas into the bottom corner before wheeling away to celebrate with coaching staff and players on the touchline.

Pellegrini replaced Van der Vaart with Benzema and Real forced Almeria onto the back foot as they endeavoured to recover from potential humiliation against a side that has lost in all of their previous visits to the Bernabeu.

They came within inches of scoring an equaliser on 71 minutes after impressive Brazilian full-back Michel cleared Albiol’s header off the line.

Two minutes later, Almeria were let down by atrocious defending and Higuain capitalised on a miscued clearance to cut inside and slot the ball into the corner for the equaliser.

The in-form Argentine failed to show similar composure only seconds later after swinging wildly to slice Ronaldo’s headed lay-off across the goalmouth from ten yards.

Ronaldo became increasingly influential and was denied from a trademark dipping free-kick after Alves leapt to push the ball away to his right.

However, the goalkeeper was outfoxed by the Portuguese superstar a minute later.

Ronaldo was fed through on goal at pace and shifted the ball wide of the on-rushing Alves before being sent crashing to the ground by the goalkeeper’s momentum.

The referee pointed to the spot and Ronaldo stepped up confidently to take the penalty.

His tame effort was saved by Alves but the goalkeeper was helpless to prevent Benzema thrashing the rebound into the roof of the net, despite the Frenchman encroaching the 18-yard box before the spot-kick was struck.

Real were fortunate to have taken the lead but confirmed their superiority with five minutes to spare.

Higuain drilled a ball low across goal for the arriving Ronaldo to force the ball home high into the net from just two yards at the far post.

His decision to tear off his shirt in celebration resulted in the referee brandishing a yellow card.

With the match seemingly won, Ronaldo began to entertain the crowd with a display of showboating. Ortiz didn’t take kindly to the Portuguese winger’s arrogance and made his feelings known with a strong challenge from behind.

Ronaldo reacted to the provocation by lashing out a kick that sent the Spaniard to the ground, a second yellow and an early bath followed.

Real Madrid: Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Albiol, Arbeloa, Alonso (Drenthe, 88), Granero, Van der Vaart (Benzema, 62), Marcelo (Diarra, 84), Ronaldo, Higuain

Almeria: Alves, Michel, Acasiere, Chico, Cisma, M’Bami, Bernardello, Soriano (Goitom, 70), Ortiz, Crusat (Piatti, 81), Uche

Man of the Match: Diego Alves – Pulled off a string of fine saves throughout the 90 minutes to keep his side in the game and was cruelly beaten after stopping Ronaldo’s spot-kick.

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