Goals from Angel Di Maria, Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo were enough for Real Madrid to secure a 3-0 victory over Sporting Gijon in an ill-tempered La Liga game at El Molinon on Saturday evening.
The away side dominated the early stages of the game, with Lassana Diarra and Sami Khedira bossing proceedings from the centre of Madrid’s midfield, much to the vocal home support’s disdain.
Despite their early pressure, neither side created any chances of note in the opening quarter of an hour, although Ronaldo did begin to stamp his influence on the game, giving the Sporting wing-back Roberto Canella a fairly torrid time in the opening exchanges.
In fact it was Ronaldo who fashioned the first real chance of the game, finding space on the edge of the box but then shooting high and wide with his left foot.
Di Maria was then unfortunate to see his thunderous effort parried away by Juan Pablo after Marcelo had done well to pick out the Argentine on the edge of the Sporting box.
Marcelo was finding all sorts of joy getting forward from left-back as the half wore on with Sporting resorting to illegal means to stop the Brazilian at times.
The Uruguayan Sebastien Eguren was the first to find his way into the referee’s book, after scything down the left-back after 25 minutes, with Oscar Trejo and David Barral following him into Eduardo Iturralde Gonzalez?’s book shortly afterwards.
Despite Gonzalo Higuain having a goal chalked off for offside Madrid did not have long to wait for their opening goal, just minutes later Di Maria robbed Damien Suarez of possession down the left before cutting inside and firing a cute finish past Juan Pablo from a tight angle.
Sporting perhaps should have equalised on the hour mark when Botia headed wastefully wide after Miguel de las Cuevas whipped an inviting free-kick to the back-post.
De las Cuevas then did well again to jink his way into the Madrid box, with the ball falling to David Barral just wide of the goal, but his tame effort was easily saved by Iker Casillas.
Ronaldo made it 2-0 to the visitors with 65 minutes gone, after he and Di Maria exchanged passes on the edge of the box. The Argentine winger then slid a perfectly weighted ball through to his Portuguese team-mate, who drifted past Juan Pablo before firing enthusiastically into an empty net.
A terrific save from Juan Pablo then denied Higuain from making it 3-0, after the forward had been played in by the in-form Ronaldo.
Sporting’s Sebastian Eguren was given his marching orders 10 minutes from the end, after receiving his second booking of the game.
Madrid did eventually add a third in injury time through Marcelo, after the Brazilian burst through on goal and fired a confident finish past Juan Pablo.
This victory cements Madrid’s position in first place of La Liga regardless of Barcelona’s result later on this evening, while Sporting remain in the relegation zone with just 12 points from 14 games. (goal.com)