Real Madrid smash David Moyes' Real Sociedad
Real Madrid proved they can win without Cristiano Ronaldo as they overpowered David Moyes' Real Sociedad to win 4-1 at the Bernabeu.
With their top scorer suspended after getting sent off at Cordoba last week, Madrid looked like they barely missed the prolific Portuguese, even though they fell behind after just 40 seconds to Aritz Elustondo's header.
But James Rodriguez levelled for Madrid moments later and then Sergio Ramos scored before the break, with Karim Benzema striking twice in the second half to ensure Carlo Ancelotti's side stay top of the Primera Division for another week.
Moyes meanwhile suffered a third defeat as La Real coach, and is still yet to win a game on the road with the Basques.
Just as against Barcelona earlier this month, the former Manchester United and Everton manager's side took the lead right at the start of the game from a set-piece.
Just 40 seconds were on the clock when Ruben Pardo sent in an outswinging corner and Elustondo was left unmarked at the far post to power a header past an unsighted Casillas and score his first goal for La Real's first team.
But Madrid responded immediately. Marcelo picked the ball up on the left hand side just after the re-start and looped a cross for Rodriguez to glance into the top corner.
The visitors nearly took the lead again a minute later when ex-Madrid man Sergio Canales played a one-two with Esteban Granero on the edge of the area and shot inches wide of the near post, and later Elustondo went for a second goal but could not get enough power on his shot to beat Casillas.
Despite their strong start, Moyes' side soon faded and Madrid took command of the game. Visiting goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli saved well from Benzema and Rodriguez, while Bale twice missed the target and also had a penalty appeal turned down.
But La Real could only withstand so many Madrid attacks, and Los Blancos took a deserved lead eight minutes before the break.
Again it was a cross from Marcelo which created havoc in the La Real box. Benzema controlled the pass and shot straight at Rulli, but the goalkeeper could only push the ball back into the danger zone and Ramos smashed it high into the net to score his third league goal of the season.
Bale should have added a third before the break after taking the ball from Rodriguez's feet with the right hand side of the goal gaping, but he could only shoot wide and, not for the first time this season, was the subject of booing from the Bernabeu faithful.
Madrid continued their dominance into the second half and soon built on their lead. Bale danced his way into the area and on this occasion did pass to a team-mate, allowing Benzema to tap into an empty net and finish off Moyes' men.
But there was still time for Benzema to score the finest goal of the game. The Frenchman attacked down the left and played a one-two with Isco before curling the ball into the top corner.