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 can reclaim second place and move back to within two points of Real with a win over Sevilla later on Saturday.
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 Carlo 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 were 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.
Earlier, Atletico Madrid bounced back from their surprise defeat to Real Sociedad before the international break with a 3-1 win over Malaga.
The hosts looked on course for a comfortable victory as Tiago nodded them into an early lead from Koke’s corner before Antoine Griezmann tapped home at the end of a flowing move to double the lead just before half-time.
Roque Santa Cruz briefly gave the visitors, who had won their previous five La Liga games, hope when he volleyed home Samu Castillejo’s wonderful cross 26 minutes from time, but their chances of a point dissipated when Samuel Sanchez was shown a second yellow card just nine minutes later.
Diego Godin wrapped up the three points as he powered home a header from close range seven minutes from time, but Atletico also ended the game with 10 men as captain Gabi picked up his second booking of the afternoon in the closing stages.
“It is always important to win,” said Atletico boss Diego Simeone.
“We understood that they had been playing very well, winning their last five games, and that made them an even more difficult opponent. Now we have to recover well for the game against Olympiakos on Wednesday.”