BARCELONA (Reuters) - Karim Benzema scored twice in the second half as Real Madrid beat Real Sociedad 4-1 to go four points clear at the top of La Liga on Saturday.
Real had to come from behind after being caught out inside the first minute with Aritz Elustondo heading visitors Sociedad in front.
But the league leaders, missing the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo, quickly got back on level terms with James Rodriguez nodding in a Marcelo cross.
Sociedad have stood out for their giant-killing this season -- with victories over the top three at home in La Liga -- but have been poor away as they have failed to win a league match outside the Anoeta stadium in San Sebastian.
Sergio Ramos gave Real the lead in the 37th minute by smashing home a rebound after a Benzema shot had been saved by keeper Geronimo Rulli.
The game opened up for Real after the break and Benzema combined with Gareth Bale to slot in his first before curling a sweet effort into the top corner 15 minutes from the end.
“Since the start of the year we haven’t been at our best but it is better to happen now than at the end of the season,” Ramos told reporters.
“We need to improve at set plays and mark up better so that we don’t cause ourselves problems. We conceded an early goal but were able to turn it around. We need to keep improving but I think we deserved the win.”
Asier Illarramendi was a given a rare chance in midfield and Isco returned after injury, while Bale moved over to the left to cover for the absence of Ronaldo.
Sociedad started at a lively tempo but they were dealt a major blow with the loss of their talisman in attack, Carlos Vela, to injury after just 15 minutes and they were not able to maintain the same work-rate as the game went on.
Real could have had several more goals in the final stages, with Bale having a shot saved when one-on-one with Rulli.
Later third-placed Atletico Madrid, seven points off the pace on 44 points, face Eibar away. Barcelona, in second, host Villarreal on Sunday.
Editing by Pritha Sarkar/Alan Baldwin