Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo double saves Benitez, briefly puts Real Madrid atop La Liga

BARCELONA/MADRID — Luis Suarez struck twice and Lionel Messi scored on his 500th appearance for Barcelona, who set a new Spanish record of goals in a calendar year with a 4-0 win over Real Betis that lifted them top of La Liga on Wednesday.

Late strikes from Angel Correa and Antoine Griezmann gave Atletico a 2-0 victory over Rayo Vallecano while Cristiano Ronaldo scored a penalty and missed another as Real Madrid beat Real Sociedad 3-1.

Ronaldo’s double brought a reprieve for under-fire coach Rafael Benitez by putting Real briefly atop La Liga, ahead of Barcelona and Atletico Madrid by a point. However, both moved back ahead of their title rivals with their victories later on Wednesday.

Ronaldo recovered from a terrible start after blasting his first penalty of the day over the bar to put Madrid in front from another spot kick just before half-time.

Bruma levelled for an injury-hit Sociedad minutes after the break but Ronaldo delivered when his side needed a goal once more to restore the lead 23 minutes from time before Lucas Vasquez added a late third.

“Apart from 10 minutes when they were in command, we controlled the game and had a lot of chances, which, if we had taken them, would have made the second half more comfortable,” said Benitez.

“The team reacted brilliantly (to the equaliser). I congratulate the players for their attitude from start to finish. We worked hard, reacted well and got the three points.”

Rumours over Benitez’s future refuse to go away after a disappointing first six months in charge at the Bernabeu, with the former Liverpool boss even claiming there is a media conspiracy against him on Tuesday.

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