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Real Madrid beat Alaves 4-0 to inch close to Atletico

Madrid: Real Madrid's strikeforce was back with vengeance when Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema all scored in a 4-0 La Liga win over Alaves on Saturday as the champions moved within four points of second-placed Atletico Madrid.

Ronaldo returned to the starting line-up after being rested for Wednesday's game with Leganes and after shaking off a painful ankle knock the Portuguese put Real ahead on the stroke of halftime, taking advantage of a clever backheel from Benzema.

The French forward was also the catalyst for Real's second goal which came under a minute into the second half, with the Frenchman winning the ball back in midfield and tearing towards goal, slipping it into Bale's path for the Wales international to slot it inside the near post.

Ronaldo struck Real's third goal of the day and his 299th in La Liga in the 61st minute, meeting a cutback from in-form winger Lucas Vazquez first time and sending it under the reach of former Real goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco.

Ronaldo then surrendered the opportunity to score a hat-trick by offering Benzema penalty-taking duties after Bale was brought down, and the Frenchman made no mistake, converting from the spot in the 89th minute.

"The 'BBC' have always been important to us, and what we want is for every player to feel 100 percent. But Lucas (Vazquez) was very good too. Our four forwards performed really well," said Real coach Zinedine Zidane in a news conference.

Bale has been the subject of criticism from the Spanish media after being left out of the starting line-up for three of Real's last four games. He returned to the team on the left wing in a 4-4-2 formation and was far more involved than he had been in the 5-3 league win at Real Betis six days previously.

Real's record signing has had another season plagued by injuries and completed 90 minutes for the first time in five months.

"We always want our players to be at their best and Bale was very good today," added Zidane.

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