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By Rik Sharma
MADRID, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Real Madrid put their title defence back on track with a comfortable 3-1 win over Real Sociedad at Anoeta on Sunday, despite missing several key players.
Sociedad defender Kevin Rodrigues scored at both ends and Borja Mayoral and Gareth Bale netted Madrid’s other goals to help them equal the consecutive scoring record of 73 games set by Pele’s Santos between 1961 and 1963.
Madrid faced a tricky clash against an in-form side with Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo suspended and Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos injured but after disappointing consecutive league draws they made light work of Eusebio Sacristan’s men.
The champions ended Sociedad’s unbeaten start to the season and moved up to fourth place, cutting table-topping Barcelona’s lead on them to four points.
Real Sociedad are third, on nine points, one ahead of Madrid and one behind Sevilla, who beat Girona 1-0 away to move second.
With Madrid weakened, the 20-year-old Mayoral rewarded Zinedine Zidane’s faith in him by breaking the deadlock in the 19th minute.
The striker netted his first goal for the club with a poacher’s finish after Sergio Ramos tried and failed to tee himself up for an overhead kick, having scored a similar goal against Apoel Nicosia on Wednesday.
Mayoral’s strike extended Madrid’s scoring streak, which began in April 2016 at Anoeta with a 1-0 win over Sociedad.
However their joy was short-lived as 10 minutes later Sociedad levelled when Alvaro Odriozola crossed for Rodrigues, whose shot squirmed past Keylor Navas, who should have kept it out.
Navas was not the only one to suffer, with a cameraman behind the goal being injured during fans’ celebrations in a makeshift stand placed behind the goal, while Anoeta undergoes renovations. He was removed on a stretcher but still able to offer a thumbs up to the fans.
Seven minutes later Rodrigues scored again, this time putting the ball into his own net after a lightning break from the visitors.
The French left-back was in the thick of the action, coming close to beating Navas with a strike against the crossbar, before charging back moments later to cut out Mayoral’s cross, only to divert it past Geronimo Rulli.
Zidane asked for more from Bale ahead of the game after fans criticised his form and the Welshman delivered in the 61st minute, breaking through on to Isco’s pass and crisply dinking the ball over the onrushing Rulli. (Reporting by Rik Sharma; Editing by Clare Fallon)