Two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo saw Real Madrid end 2015 with a win over Real Sociedad in what was a hard-fought victory.
Madrid were awarded two first half penalties, the first for a nothing challenge by Yuri Berchiche on Karim Benzema as Benzema went for a header, Ronaldo hitting the resulting spot kick high over the bar.
A second penalty was signalled by Jose Luis Gonzalez Gonzalez, again against Yuri, this time for handball, and Ronaldo made no mistake by going low, putting Madrid in front shortly before half time.
La Real were level shortly after half time with a stunning goal from Bruma, and though Pepe felt he was fouled by Jonathas in the build-up, replays suggested the striker was simply the stronger of the two.
Ronaldo restored Madrid’s lead with around 20 minutes to play and this time it was without the help of a penalty, instead an inventive volley from a deep cross.
The win was confirmed with a few minutes to play as substitute Lucas Vazquez produced a touch worthy of Gareth Bale’s cross and converted past Gero Rulli.
Rafa Benitez made only one change from the XI that routed Rayo Vallecano, Nacho for Sergio Ramos, while Eusebio Sacristan named both Jonathas and Imanol Agirretxe, the latter taking a left-ish berth, and ex-Madrid pair Asier Illarramendi and Sergio Canales, but both Agirretxe and Canales were stretchered off before the interval.
Pepe had the first chance on goal when his header from James Rodriguez’s corner was tipped over by Rulli, the first of a number times the goalkeeper was called into action.
Rulli had to save with his legs to prevent Ronaldo finishing off a Madrid break led by Gareth Bale, and was alert to a Karim Benzema volley that the Argentine did well to get down to.
Keylor Navas was quickly off his line to smother an Agirretxe opening after a tidy counter-attack and made heavy contact with the forward’s left leg, Agirretxe going off as a result.
Navas cleanly gathered the ball and no-one asked for a penalty for the challenge, but it could be argued the goalkeeper committed a foul as he took out Agirretxe, while Jonathas shouted for a decision when Pepe bundled him over.
Instead it was Madrid who were given a penalty for a foul on Benzema, Yuri leaning into the striker as he challenged for a header, but it was generous and Ronaldo blazed high over the bar anyway.
The game remained cagey, with Madrid looking to break through a deep visiting defence and La Real only able to break once, getting four-on-three, but the cross from Bruma missed every attacking player.
Jonathas at one end and Benzema and Luka Modric at the other also tried to break the deadlock but it was Ronaldo who did with his second attempt from the spot.
Madrid felt Yuri should have received a second yellow card for the infringement but it didn’t come, though La Real did lose Canales moments before the goal.
The midfielder became the second visiting player to be stretchered off after going down in an innocuous incident, appearing to overstretch his knee.
La Real were level with their second attack of the second half, Jonathas for once getting the best of Pepe in the physical battle and finding Bruma, who made the most of Danilo’s decision to stand off and curled a spectacular effort past Navas and into the top far corner.
Ronaldo looked to put Madrid back ahead but it was Bruma again causing problems, sprinting clear of the entire Madrid defence but for a sprawling Navas to intervene.
Bale was again foiled by Rulli prior to James being withdrawn for Mateo Kovacic, a substitution greeted with whistles, though not as many as there were when Benitez’s name was read out to the crowd.
The fans were happier just past the hour when Ronaldo got his and Madrid’s second with a swinging volley from Marcelo’s cross, on the turn, not the cleanest hit but a firm contact to beat Rulli.
Ruben Pardo went closest to restoring parity and Madrid had half-chances to kill the game, which Vazquez eventually did.
Real Madrid 3-1 Real Sociedad
Ronaldo pen 42, 68, Lucas Vazquez 87 (RM), Bruma 49 (RS)
Real Madrid: Navas; Danilo, Pepe, Nacho, Marcelo; Kroos, Modric (Casemiro 87); Bale, James (Kovacic 59), Ronaldo; Benzema (Lucas Vazquez 76)
Real Sociedad: Rulli; C. Martinez, Elustondo, I. Martinez, Yuri; Prieto, Illarra, Bergara, Canales (Pardo 45); Jonathas (Vela 69), Agirretxe (Bruma 17)
Referee: Jose Luis Gonzalez Gonzalez