Pete Jenson for MailOnline

Even when he’s bad, he’s good. Cristiano Ronaldo missed a first-half sitter and a penalty and was below par for long periods, but he still scored the two goals that saw Real Madrid beat Real Sociedad 3-1 and got Rafa Benitez, at least for the moment, off the hook.

Benitez’s name was whistled by supporters inside the stadium before the game started and some of his players seem to have stopped playing for him. It looked as if Ronaldo had joined their ranks when he fired a penalty over the bar but he scored from the spot shortly afterwards and hit the winner late on. Substitute Lucas Vazquez added a third from a cross from Gareth Bale who was excellent throughout.

Real Madrid needed to the start the game well and Bale did his best to make that happen, running at the left-hand side of Real Sociedad’s defence. He headed James Rodriguez’s corner just wide and Pepe also connected with a corner kick from the Colombian that Rulli tipped over.

Cristiano Ronaldo tucks away a penalty - his second spot-kick of the match - to give Real Madrid the lead against Real Sociedad

Cristiano Ronaldo tucks away a penalty – his second spot-kick of the match – to give Real Madrid the lead against Real Sociedad

Ronaldo runs towards the home fans at the Bernabeu Stadium to celebrate giving Real Madrid the lead in their final match of the year

Ronaldo runs towards the home fans at the Bernabeu Stadium to celebrate giving Real Madrid the lead in their final match of the year

Ronaldo (centre) celebrates alongside Real Madrid team-mates Gareth Bale (left), Marcelo (right) and Karim Benzema after making it 1-0

Ronaldo (centre) celebrates alongside Real Madrid team-mates Gareth Bale (left), Marcelo (right) and Karim Benzema after making it 1-0

Ronaldo (right) celebrates after scoring his second penalty of the match to make up for his first, which was blazed over the crossbar

Ronaldo (right) celebrates after scoring his second penalty of the match to make up for his first, which was blazed over the crossbar

Ronaldo produces his trademark celebration after slotting his penalty home to give Real Madrid the lead against Real Sociedad

Ronaldo produces his trademark celebration after slotting his penalty home to give Real Madrid the lead against Real Sociedad

MATCH FACTS

Real Madrid XI: Navas, Danilo, Pepe, Nacho, Marcelo, Kroos, Modric (Casemiro 87), James (Kovacic 59), Ronaldo, Benzema (Lucas Vazquez 75), Bale

Subs not used: Casilla, Varane, Jese, Isco

Goals: Ronaldo 42 pen, 67, Vazquez 86 

Booked: Nacho 

Real Sociedad XI: Rulli, Martinez, Aritz Elustondo, Inigo Martinez, Yuri, Markel, Illarramendi, Prieto, Canales (Pardo 45), Agirretxe (Bruma 18), Jonathas (Vela 68)

Subs not used: Oier, Hector, Diego Reyes, De la Bella 

Goal: Bruma 49

Booked: Martinez, Yuri, Illarramendi 

Ronaldo should then have put Real Madrid ahead but from Bale’s run and cross his shot was weak and directed straight at Rulli. It was rare miss from the club’s record scorer from such a favourable position.

Real Sociedad came into the game having won just twice since David Moyes was sacked and have also been knocked out of the Cup. In their last 16 visits to the Bernabeu they had won only once but they were clearly buoyed by the nerves of home team.

A good save from Keylor Navas prevented Imanol Agirretxe’s shot hitting the back of the net. Agirretxe was taken off as a result of his crunch with the Real Madrid keeper and the visitors had lost their 12-goal striker. It was the first of several moments of terrible luck for them.

First referee Jose Luis Gonzalez Gonzalez – so bad they named him twice – pointed to the spot after Karim Benzema dived. Ronaldo lifted the kick over the bar. In 55 penalties he had only missed six for Real and those had always been saved – this was the first to be blasted off-target.

He soon had his 56th penalty and again it was an awful decision. Bale’s cross hit Carlos Martinez’s thigh and the ball cannoned up onto his arm. Referees have been told this season that such incidents are not penalties but the penalty was given and Ronaldo does not miss twice in the same game.

That should have been game over when Sergio Canales was taken off with a yet another cruciate ligament tear and Real Madrid pushed for the second goal. It did not come and Real Sociedad were the next team to score. Bruma was given far too much space by Danilo and he took full advantage to curl a shot past Keylor Navas and equalise.

Ronaldo missed the target from the penalty spot for the first time in his La Liga career, skying the ball over the top of the crossbar

Ronaldo missed the target from the penalty spot for the first time in his La Liga career, skying the ball over the top of the crossbar

Former Manchester United winger Ronaldo wipes his brow in frustration after missing a golden opportunity to give Real Madrid the lead

Former Manchester United winger Ronaldo wipes his brow in frustration after missing a golden opportunity to give Real Madrid the lead

Brazilian defender Marcelo (left) argues with Real Madrid team-mate James Rodriguez during the game at the Bernabeu on Wednesday

Brazilian defender Marcelo (left) argues with Real Madrid team-mate James Rodriguez during the game at the Bernabeu on Wednesday

Is time running out for Rafa? Benitez checks his watch
Benitez has come under fire by Real Madrid fans, and was booed before kick-off

Is time running out for Rafa? Benitez was booed by fans (left) ahead of the Bernabeu match between Real Madrid and Real Sociedad

Young Portuguese talent Bruma produced a wonder curled finish to level the scores just after half-time at the Bernabeu Stadium

Young Portuguese talent Bruma produced a wonder curled finish to level the scores just after half-time at the Bernabeu Stadium

Benitez was back under pressure – he protested that an earlier foul had not been given against Pepe. Even if he had a case Real Sociedad deserved their slice of luck and now they sensed they could take all three points.

Benitez needed his players to find another gear but instead they looked to kick the ball out when a rival went down. The Real Madrid coach was furious and he was fuming again moments later with Rodriguez when he strolled off the pitch upset at being substituted. 

The player was clearly protesting that he had been taken off. He had done little in the game and his very public reaction pointed the finger at his manager who raged at the precious seconds wasted.

As the clock ran down time seemed to be running out on Benitez but up popped Ronaldo. Marcelo’s deep corner dropped to the Portuguese. He was just inside the penalty and he seemed to swing a foot at it without making great contact but it went past Rulli to rescue the three points and that was all that mattered to Real Madrid and their under-pressure coach.

Benitez is wearing a selection straitjacket at Real Madrid. He can’t pick the players he wants to because there are so many expensive signings to fit in. One of those who would be playing more if he had greater autonomy is young winger Vazquez and he swept in the third after a cross from the excellent Bale.

Ronaldo (right) wheels away in celebration as Real Sociedad's players can only watch on after the Portuguese forward's penalty

Ronaldo (right) wheels away in celebration as Real Sociedad’s players can only watch on after the Portuguese forward’s penalty

Ronaldo (left) swings a left boot at the ball to fire in Real Madrid's second goal of the game, easing the pressure on manager Benitez

Ronaldo (left) swings a left boot at the ball to fire in Real Madrid’s second goal of the game, easing the pressure on manager Benitez

Ronaldo grins after volleying in his second goal of the match, a wonderful left-footed finish after Marcelo's corner kick on 67 minutes

Ronaldo grins after volleying in his second goal of the match, a wonderful left-footed finish after Marcelo’s corner kick on 67 minutes

Real Madrid's Welsh forward Bale runs for the ball during his side's final match of 2015, against Real Sociedad at the Bernabeu Stadium

Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Bale runs for the ball during his side’s final match of 2015, against Real Sociedad at the Bernabeu Stadium

Nacho (centre) and Benzema (right) desperately jump to carve a chance at the Sociedad goal, but the away side clear their lines

Nacho (centre) and Benzema (right) desperately jump to carve a chance at the Sociedad goal, but the away side clear their lines

Two Real Madrid supporters got into the Christmas spirit ahead of the match, dying their beards white and wearing Santa hats

Two Real Madrid supporters got into the Christmas spirit ahead of the match, dying their beards white and wearing Santa hats


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