Ronaldo nets 300th Real Madrid goal in 2-0 defeat of Rayo Vallecano
Real Madrid claimed a 2-0 victory over a spirited Rayo Vallecano to remain hot on the heels of Primera Division leaders Barcelona.
Cristiano Ronaldo, fresh from scoring five in the 9-1 rout of Granada over the weekend, broke the deadlock at Campo de Futbol de Vallecas midway through the second half for his 300th Real goal before James Rodriguez netted soon after.
That kept Real four points behind Barca, who had beaten Almeria earlier on Wednesday, but Carlo Ancelotti's men did not have things all their own way as Vallecano proved more than a match for them, particularly in the first half.
It was the visitors who started brightly, though, as Ronaldo rolled a volley across the face of goal while James should have done better when he was picked out with time and space on the edge of the box, but the Colombian shot straight at David Cobeno.
Vallecano grew into the game, and Alberto Bueno cut in from the right before his low 25-yard strike forced Iker Casillas to palm away.
At the other end Gareth Bale's volleyed goal was chalked off after the Welshman had narrowly strayed offside, but Real's attacks were growing rarer and rarer.
Vallecano were causing particular problems from set-pieces, and Adri Embarba's corner was flicked on before taking a touch off Manucho which forced Casillas into another smart save.
The veteran goalkeeper was called into action once again as Tito's corner was met by an unmarked Roberto Trashorras, who could only plant a header straight at Casillas shortly before the interval.
Real, though, appeared to regroup at half-time and were the stronger team after the interval.
Bale's diving header only narrowly missed the target, while Ronaldo should have been awarded a penalty after being upended by Antonio Amaya, but the Portuguese was instead booked for diving.
The three-time Ballon d'Or winner was then heckled for the rest of the match by the partisan Vallecano crowd.
But he had the last laugh as he opened the scoring for Real in the 68th minute, heading into an empty net for his landmark goal after he had been found following Dani Carvajal's burst into the box.
It was 2-0 five minutes later and Ronaldo this time turned provider, squaring for James, who cut on to his left foot before tucking past Cobeno from the edge of the area.
To their credit, Vallecano refused to give up but their efforts were in vain as Real held to secure all three points.