Real Madrid sinks Alaves

Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo (R) celebrates scoring their first goal with Gareth Bale against Deportivo Alaves at Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Saturday. — Reuters

MADRID — Real Madrid's 'BBC' strikeforce hit back with a vengeance when Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema all scored in a 4-0 win over Alaves Saturday as the champions moved within four points of second-placed Atletico Madrid.

Ronaldo returned to the starting line-up after being rested for Wednesday's game with Leganes and after shaking off a painful ankle knock the Portuguese put Real ahead on the stroke of halftime, taking advantage of a clever backheel from Benzema.

Benzema was also the catalyst for Real's second goal which came under a minute into the second half, with the Frenchman winning the ball back in midfield and tearing toward goal, slipping it into Bale's path for the Wales international to slot it inside the near post.

Ronaldo struck Real's third goal of the day and his 299th in La Liga in the 61st minute, meeting a cutback from in-form winger Lucas Vazquez first time and sending it under the reach of former Real goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco.

Ronaldo then surrendered the opportunity to score a hat trick by offering Benzema penalty-taking duties after Bale was brought down, and the Frenchman made no mistake, converting from the spot in the 89th minute.

Real is third in the standings on 51 points, 11 behind leader Barcelona which host Girona later Saturday and four from Atletico, which can widen the gap back to seven when it visits Sevilla Sunday.

Deportivo La Coruna missed a second-half penalty kick and was twice denied by the woodwork in a 0-0 draw with Espanyol Friday.

The result extended Deportivo's winless run to 10 matches in all competitions, and left the club in the relegation zone for yet another round.

It was the team's third game in a row without a victory since Clarence Seedorf took over to try to keep the club in the first division. It was 18th in the 20-team standings after 25 matches.

Seedorf and the players left the field applauded by the local fans despite the setback at Riazor Stadium. — Agencies