(Reuters) - Cristiano Ronaldo hit a late double as La Liga leaders Real Madrid thumped Almeria 4-1 to extend their Spanish record for consecvutive victories in all competitions to 20 on Friday.
Ronaldo struck twice in the last 10 minutes to take his league tally to 25 after first-half goals from Isco and Gareth Bale had seen the visitors go in 2-1 ahead at halftime.
The Portugal winger had been left frustrated for most of the night but he burst into life late on when he knocked in a Karim Benzema cut back from close range before putting away an Isco pass from the centre of the penalty area to wrap up the victory.
Real lead the standings with 39 points from 15 games, five points more than Barcelona who visit Getafe on Saturday.
The European champions travel to Morocco next week for the Club World Cup with two more wins than the previous best which was Barca's 18 victories from October 2005 to January 2006.
Real last failed to win when they were beaten 2-1 by city rivals Atletico Madrid in a La Liga game in September.
“Almeria caused problems for us throughout the game but in the end our quality showed through and we deserved the win,” Real coach Carlo Ancelotti told reporters. “We found it difficult to keep possession as we lacked the necessary composure on the ball and Almeria worked hard. “We are now in good form and there are a lot of positive signs ahead of the Club World Cup.”
Real have had to cope with injuries to Luka Modric, Sami Khedira and James Rodriguez which have allowed Isco to enjoy an extended run and he got his second La Liga goal of the season.
The midfielder put Real ahead with a superb curling effort from the edge of the area after 34 minutes before Almeria drew level with a sweetly struck long-range volley by Verza. Bale then nodded in a cross by Toni Kroos to restore Real's lead.
Real's Iker Casillas kept them in front with an excellent penalty save to deny Verza midway through the second half, after Marcelo had fouled Edgar Mendez, before Ronaldo's late double gave the visitors a more flattering scoreline.
Almeria, who sacked Francisco Rodriguez last Tuesday and named Juan Ignacio Martinez to replace him following the Real game, started at a high-tempo unlike the display against Eibar last Monday when a 5-2 defeat cost the coach his job.
But the home side were eventually outclassed by Real, with the defeat keeping them in the relegation zone on 10 points.
(Editing by Ken Ferris)