Real Madrid saw off Basque minnows Eibar’s dreams of a giant-killing thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo double to register their 14th consecutive win in all competitions with a 4-0 victory on Saturday.
The European champions had more than a touch of fortune in the first half as James Rodriguez headed home the opener despite Ronaldo and Karim Benzema appearing to be in an offside position in the build-up to the goal.
Ronaldo then doubled the lead himself with a mishit shot that looped beyond Xabi Irureta just before the break. Benzema smashed home the third 20 minutes from time before Ronaldo rounded off the scoring from the penalty spot.
Victory restores Real’s four-point advantage over La Liga champions Atletico Madrid, who moved into second with a 3-1 win over 10-man Malaga earlier in the day.
However, Barcelona cam reclaim second place and move back to within two points of Real with a win over Sevilla later on Saturday.
“The objective is to continue with this run because the team is playing well and the players are motivated,” said Real boss Carlo Ancelotti.
“But the season is very long and we need to continue with this type of attitude.”
Madrid were visiting the 5,000 capacity Ipurua stadium for the first time in a league fixture and were immediately put on the back foot by the side with a budget 30 times inferior to Ancelotti’s star-studded squad.
Mikel Arruabarrena failed to make contact with an attempted volley when well-placed inside the area before Ander Capa’s side-footed effort was deflected just wide.
However, Madrid were also posing a threat with Gareth Bale particularly lively and Irureta did brilliantly to turn the Welshman’s dipping free-kick onto the bar.
Eibar rightly felt aggrieved when the opener did arrive as Benzema was offside when he miscued from Ronaldo’s cross. The ball then rebounded to the Portuguese captain, who also appeared offside, and he crossed for Rodriguez to head home at the back post.
Iker Casillas had to come to the visitors’ rescue moments later with an outstretched leg to prevent Saul Berjon equalising.
Yet Eibar’s hope of a famous night faded just before the break when Ronaldo’s scuffed effort flew in at Irureta’s near post.
Sergio Ramos and Isco passed up great chances to extend Madrid’s lead early in the second period, but Los Blancos did finally add a third when Benzema slammed home Rodriguez’s cut-back from close range.