BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice in the second half of a 3-0 win at Getafe on Sunday as Real Madrid stayed top of the Spanish league at the halfway point.
Madrid started slowly three days after its defense of the Copa del Rey title was ended by Atletico Madrid, but its talented attack eventually came through after light snow fell on the Alfonso Perez Coliseum.
Ronaldo was particularly subdued until Karim Benzema dribbled to the end line and used a skillful change of foot to open a passing angle and set up the Portugal forward to net from close range in the 63rd minute.
Bale sprinted forward to redirect James Rodriguez's long ball with the outer edge of his left foot to double the advantage four minutes later.
Rodriguez continued to excel as Madrid's playmaker when he spotted Ronaldo calling for the ball and swerved in a perfectly placed cross for the Ballon d'Or winner to head home in the 79th.
Madrid has a four-point lead over Barcelona which visits Deportivo La Coruna later Sunday. Madrid also has a game in hand.
After its exit from the cup, Carlo Ancelotti's team was under pressure to have a strong showing with only one win in four matches to start 2015 after finishing last year on a Spanish record 22-win streak.
"We didn't come back from Christmas in the best shape," Ancelotti said. "But, for example, James (Rodriguez) played an extraordinary game. He is getting back to his top form. Little by little the entire team is recovering its best form."
In the first half, Getafe's midfield of Jorge Sammir and Diego Castro kept Toni Kroos from linking up with Madrid's forwards. The visitors were limited to Francisco "Isco" Alarcon's strike that goalkeeper Jordi Codina palmed over the bar before Kroos rattled the woodwork from long distance just before halftime.
Getafe's best scoring chance came with the result beyond doubt when Alvaro Vazquez hit the upright four minute from time. The modest Madrid-based club remained one point above the relegation zone.
Bale ended the match limping, but Ancelotti said it was only a "knock."
Also later, Atletico Madrid hosts Granada aiming to recover third place, Sevilla hosts Malaga, and Levante is at Elche.