Football: Ronaldo helps Real to pull clear of Barca at the top

Ronaldo scores against Las Palmas.
Ronaldo scores against Las Palmas.AFP

MADRID (REUTERS) - Real Madrid opened a three-point lead over Barcelona at the top of La Liga when Cristiano Ronaldo scored his eighth goal of the campaign in a 3-1 victory at home to promoted Las Palmas on Saturday.

Unbeaten Real, who were missing several injured regulars including Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and James Rodriguez for the clash at the Bernabeu, have 24 points from 10 matches and champions Barca can draw level with their arch rivals with a win at Getafe later on Saturday.

Atletico Madrid are third, a point behind Barca, after they conceded a late equaliser and were held to a 1-1 draw at Deportivo La Coruna on Friday.

Las Palmas are back in Spain's top flight after a 13-year absence and initially appeared to be heading for a similar drubbing to the one they received the last time they played at Real - a 7-0 defeat in February 2002 when Fernando Morientes hit five goals.

Isco raced on to a Casemiro pass and finished clinically past Las Palmas goalkeeper Javi Varas to make it 1-0 in the fourth minute.

Ronaldo was given room to head in Marcelo's cross 10 minutes later.

The Canary Islands club managed to create some chances of their own, however, and midfielder Hernan Santana scored with a header from a corner in the 38th minute.

It was the first goal Real have conceded at home in five La Liga outings this term but they restored their two-goal advantage five minutes later when Jese cut in from the left and cracked the ball past Varas.

Real comfortably controlled the game in the second half, content to save energy for Tuesday's Champions League Group A match at home to French champions Paris St Germain, before Ronaldo was denied a second goal by a brilliant Varas block at the death.

Celta Vigo, who play at Real Sociedad later on Saturday, have 18 points in fourth, one ahead of fifth-placed Villarreal before their game at home to Sevilla, who are eighth. Valencia, in ninth, host struggling city neighbours Levante.