Real Madrid hit four at Almeria


Two late goals from Cristiano Ronaldo helped Real Madrid increase their Spanish record run to 20 straight wins with a 4-1 triumph at struggling Almeria on Friday night. Carlo Ancelotti's men ensured they would end their domestic year in style but only after a scare as Almeria striker Verza briefly drew his team level and could have done so again had he not missed a second half penalty. Real surpassed the previously record jointly held with Barcelona when they beat Ludogorets in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, and fancied their chances against their struggling rivals. Without a win in nine Primera Division games, Almeria dismissed coach Francisco Rodriguez earlier this week and promoted Miguel Rivera as caretaker boss. The hosts held out for 33 minutes before Isco gave Real Madrid the lead with a right-foot finish from a Karim Benzema corner. But Almeria responded well with Tommer Hemed coming close with a header before Verza grabbed a surprise equaliser five minutes later with a long-range effort. The home side were level for less than three minutes before Gareth Bale restored Real's advantage with a header from a cross by Toni Kroos. But the hosts were giving a good account of themselves and Ancelotti's men reached the break far from certain of extending their record streak. Hemed and Fernando Soriano both missed chances for the home side early in the second half before Ronaldo, gaining in influence, drew his first save out of home keeper Ruben. Almeria missed their golden chance to draw level again on the hour mark after Marcelo was penalised for a foul on Edgar Mendez in the home box. Verza stepped up to take the spot-kick but saw his effort saved low to his right by Real keeper Iker Casillas. The miss knocked the wind out of the hosts with Isco, Ronaldo and Karim Benzema all coming close to extending the visitors' lead. Ronaldo eventually made the game safe in the 81st minute when he was played in by Benzema and fired past Ruben to put his side 3-1 ahead. And with the home side quickly tiring, Ronaldo made it four two minutes from time with a shot from the right side of the box after a lay-off by Daniel Carvajal.