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Cristiano Ronaldo brace sinks Osasuna

Ronaldo opens the scoring
Ronaldo opens the scoring
Photo by Denis Doyle

Today Spanish Football giants Real Madrid defeated their visitors, Osasuna, 4-0 in their La Liga clash, at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. The victory maintains the Merengues in a provisional second place with a postponed game in hand against Valladolid coming at mid-week and Barcelona and Atletico Madrid playing their respective matches tomorrow.

The game began with a moment of silence for the departed Tito Villanova, Barcelona's previous coach and Pep Guardiola's right hand man during the Catalan's recent years of domestic and international dominance.

Cristiano Ronaldo opened the score at the sixth minute with a patented right-footed dipper on the run from the left wing that left Osasuna goalkeeper, Andres Fernandez, planted. This is the type of goal only Ronaldo can claim to do with any frequency, for anyone else this was a golazo for Ronaldo just a CR7 lunch special. The Madrid side dominated play throughout the first half and keeper Diego Lopez had little action most of those 45+ minutes.

Real seemed pretty confident of the win against their lowly and relegation-threatened opponents and they used the game as an opportunity to rest players with dings, others who were due a break in their rotations and to give Ronaldo a fine-tuning opportunity. Sitting on the bench for various reasons were Xabi Alonso, Pepe, Gareth Bale, and Karim Benzema.

As the half, progressed and with the goal advantage the Madrid side seemed to be using specific offensive strategies that might come in handy in their game against Bayern Munich next week. The most intriguing had Sergio Ramos joining the attack on particular counters and then remaining for short stretches to see if anything developed. Another tactic had Marcelo playing both a starting role while focusing on his more dangerous offensive forays. His many shots were on target and often required good saves.

At the 52nd minute Ronaldo wanted to test whether his leg was really ok and whether his timing was returning after his short injury. He took the ball on the left wing wove himself inward on a horizontal toward the box and unleashed a bullet into the right upper ninety of the Osasuna goal--golazo!

At the 59th minute another counter saw Ronaldo on the left wing find Ramos, who had started the play, running down the middle. The defender found Angel di Maria on the right wing and the Argentine returned the favor with a perfect cross that Ramos dutifully headed into the bottom of the Osasuna net for the third score.

With the 3-0 advantage signaling to coach Carlo Ancelotti that Madrid's objective had been obtained he began to substitute his starters and Ronaldo went out for Casemiro to get a few minutes, Daniel Carvajal gave di Maria a spell, and Luka Modric came out so Xabi could get some miles on the odometer. It seemed for the world that the La Liga trophy, for which the team still holds out some hope, was really secondary to the objective of moving on in the Champions League.

At the 83rd minute Isco found Carvajal unmarked, and running down the middle of the box, having beat the off sides trap. The perfect flip pass reached Daniel in alley-oop style and he simply headed over the onrushing and high-jumping Fernandez for the chipped fourth goal and final score.

Prior to the game Ancelotti had said: "We are trying to get our energy back. We have to focus because we are in the fight for La Liga. The goal is to win every game until the end and Osasuna is one of them." Today he was able to focus on European glory while pursuing domestic bliss.

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