This day in history of Ronaldo
MADRID, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Ronaldo struck twice, including a controversial penalty, to fire leaders Real Madrid to a 4-2 win at Espanyol in the Primera Liga on Saturday.
The win gave Real 56 points from 25 matches and left Valencia, in second place on 51 points, needing a home win against fourth-placed Barcelona later on Saturday to cut the gap back to two points.
Ronaldo put Real ahead from the penalty spot in the 26th minute, after Raul had gone done under little or no challenge from Espanyol keeper Erwin Lemmens, but the home side hit back with a penalty of their own from Raul Tamudo five minutes later.
Real regained the lead with an eye-catching Roberto Carlos goal early in the second half, Raul Bravo headed in a third after 66 minutes and Ronaldo danced past the keeper to score his 21st league goal of the season a few minutes later.
Alberto Lopo took advantage of some lazy Real defending to pull one back six minutes from time.
Deportivo Coruna lost ground on the leaders when they were held to a goalless draw at Atletico Madrid.
Javier Irureta's side dominated throughout but Diego Tristan and Walter Pandiani missed clear chances in the second half to leave them in third place with 50 points, six behind Real.
Real, who needed a controversial last-minute penalty to claim a 1-1 draw against Valencia last week, once again enjoyed the benefit of the doubt in the area when Raul went down with his back to goal midway through the first half.
There appeared to be little contact between Raul and Belgian goalkeeper Lemmens but the referee pointed to the spot and Ronaldo gratefully slotted in to put Real 1-0 up.
Espanyol were incensed but the referee helped restore parity within five minutes, ruling that Real keeper Iker Casillas had brought down Ivan de la Pena and awarding another marginal penalty that Tamudo converted.
The visitors, without the suspended David Beckham, laboured in the first half but they were back to their slick-passing best after the break and made certain of victory with three goals in 17 minutes.
Zinedine Zidane's raking pass picked out Ronaldo in the 53rd minute and the striker teed up his fellow Brazilian Roberto Carlos to sweep in for 2-1.
Raul Bravo met a corner from the right for Real's third and Ronaldo took a pass from Esteban Cambiasso and beat the keeper for the fourth in the 70th minute.
Lopo was left unmarked to score Espanyol's second six minutes from time after a poor defensive header but Real's victory was never in doubt.
By Kevin Fylan