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Spanish Premiera Round 18 - Real Madrid vs Villarreal - Review

Monday, January 10, 2011

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A Cristiano Ronaldo hat trick has helped Real Madrid reduce the gap once again to La Liga leaders Barcelona following an enthralling 4-2 victory against Villareal. Los Blancos came from behind on two separate occasions, with Portuguese playmaker Ronaldo scoring the equaliser each time. Kaka added to the Yellow Submarine’s misery with his first goal of the season after returning from injury last week.

Villareal had taken the lead early on courtesy of Cani, but a quick lapse in concentration allowed Mesut Oezil to slip the ball to Ronaldo who finished from close range. Marcos Ruben then put his side ahead, although Ronaldo equalised once more with a header shortly before half time. He added to his tally with a third goal, before Kaka scored on his return to the Santiago Bernabeu.

The match began with Villareal eager to net the first goal; Santi Carzola had a brilliant opportunity in the second minute, but his shot was deflected wide by Spanish defender Sergio Ramos. The Yellow Submarine were soon awarded for their aggressive tactics when quick passing between Carzola and Rossi picked out Cani, who flicked the ball past Iker Casillas to give his team the lead in just the 7th minute. However, Madrid was soon on level terms when Ronaldo converted his side’s first attacking opportunity of the match. Karim Benzema, who now looks likely to stay with Madrid following Higuian’s injury, slotted the ball through the Villareal defence to Mesut Oezil, who in turn provided a clinical cross to Ronaldo before the former Manchester United star finished from close range.

A quick succession of shots, first from Madrid’s Lassana Diarra, and then from Marco Ruben, could have added to a highly entertaining first half. However, it was not long before Marcos Ruben grabbed his team’s second goal of the game after executing a brilliant lob over Casillas. Both teams then soon had an opportunity each when Cazorla and then Ronaldo’s goal were deemed to be offside. Los Blancos soon began to dominate; an equaliser seemed possible before the half time break and when Angel Di Maria was fouled outside the box, Xabi Alonso delivered a perfect cross to the unmarked Cristiano Ronaldo who drew his team level with a clinical header.

The second half began with Real Madrid applying full pressure on the away team. Ronaldo had a golden opportunity in the 64th minute when he was one-on-one with goalkeeper Diego Lopez, but the Portuguese star procrastinated on the ball and was forced to pass to Sergio Ramos, whose shot was off-target. Rossi and Benzema then each had another opportunity to find the winner for their respective teams, but were both denied by solid goalkeeping.

Ronaldo completed his hat-trick in the 79th minute after smashing the ball past Diego Lopez. Benzema’s shot was blocked by the goalkeeper following Kaka’s cross and it fell to the Portuguese playmaker who made no mistake in grabbing his 22nd goal of the campaign with a clever shot. Villareal coach Garrido protested the goal with claims that Ronaldo had been in an offside position. However, the 50 year old was instead sent to the grandstands for his troubles, along with Cani who received a red card for his complaints and for threatening to throw a water bottle at Jose Mournho from the bench.

Following this controversial third goal, anger and frustration was high on the Villareal bench. Kaka added to his team’s lead with his first goal of the season in the 82nd minute after Ronaldo provided a magnificent cross from the left that the Brazilian converted at the near post. The controversy continued when Mourinho began to celebrate directly in front of the opposition’s bench.

Los Blancos managed to hold on to their lead until full time and grabbed a crucial three points which sees them reduce the gap once again to leaders Barcelona, while Villareal remains in third place. Madrid undoubtedly dominated the second half, although Mourinho would certainly have been worried that his 9 year unbeaten home record may have been overrun during the first period of play. With the news that Mourinho will not be given funding to purchase another striker, Madrid must now ensure that each player is contributing to the team and injuries are minimal.


Final Score: Real Madrid 4         Villarreal 2
                     Ronaldo  10              Cani 7
                     Ronaldo  45              Ruben 18
                     Ronaldo  80
                     Kaka       82

Man of the Match: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)

By Alexander "Real Madrid" Novo (Twitter and Facebook Follower) - Spanish Correspondant
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