This day in history of Ronaldo
MADRID, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Ronaldo saved Real Madrid from a second successive Primera Liga defeat when he grabbed his 15th goal of the season to earn his side a 1-1 draw away to a dominant Real Betis on Sunday.
The Brazilian striker took full advantage of one of the few occasions when he received the ball in space to shimmy his way past Betis keeper Pedro Contreras and clip in from a tight angle to cancel out Joaquin's first-half volley.
Valencia, who drew 0-0 at Valladolid on Saturday, retain their one-point advantage over Real at the top of the table, but Deportivo Coruna move to within four points of the leaders after their 4-1 win over Real Zaragoza on Sunday. Deportivo midfielder Juan Carlos Valeron made an unfortunate start to the match when he hit the post from five metres out and then bundled into his own net at the other end after five minutes.
But the Spanish international atoned for his early error when he had a hand in Diego Tristan's equaliser midway through the first half and then put his side ahead with a fine glancing header from a corner six minutes into the second.
Tristan completed his double with a close-range header in the 76th minute and midfielder Sergio wrapped up an easy win over their relegation-threatened opponents when he finished off a slick counter-attack four minutes from time.
Atletico Madrid retained the fourth Champions League slot, a further six points back, after a fiercely disputed 2-1 win over Sevilla at the Calderon.
Despite fielding a full-strength line-up, including a recovered David Beckham, Real never looked comfortable against Betis.
The Andalucians, who struggled to find their form in the first half of the season, made an explosive start as they pinned Real back in their own area.
Winger Joaquin created all sorts of problems for the Real defence and had two strong penalty appeals turned down in the opening 20 minutes when he was brought down by Roberto Carlos and Raul Bravo.
But the Spanish international was rewarded when he cracked in on the volley from eight metre out when Real keeper Iker Casillas had parried a Fernando shot into his path on 33 minutes.
Real managed to create just one clear chance in the first half when Ronaldo jinked past his markers and fired straight at Contreras in the final minute.
But the Brazilian needed just one more chance to level the game.
Racing on to a pin-point through ball from Zinedine Zidane, he left a bemused Contreras rooted to the spot with a dizzying series of stepovers and guided in with his left from a tight angle 15 minutes into the second half.
Betis continued to dominate but were unable to put the finishing touch to some promising attacks and it was Real who nearly stole a late win when midfielder Ivan Helguera had a header cleared off the line two minutes from time.
By Simon Baskett