MADRID, April 5 (Xinhua) -- Real Madrid kept their nerve to win 4-0 away to Real Sociedad on Saturday night to maintain themselves in the race for the BBVA Primera Liga title.
Carlo Ancelotti's side kicked off knowing that anything other than a win in the difficult Anoeta stadium would probably end their options of winning the title after both Atletico Madrid and Barcelona had won their respective matches and they struggled in what was an even first half in which neither side was able to gain control.
Everything changed on the stroke of halftime when Asier Illaramendi, who was returning to face his former club, poked Real Madrid ahead from close range after Claudio Bravo had parried a Karim Benzema shot.
Bravo then made a horrible error in gifting the ball to Bale, who still had a lot to do before firing a 45 yard shot home as the Real Sociedad keeper tried to recover his ground.
That was the end of the game as a contest, although Pepe and Alvaro Morata scored late goals to emphasize Real Madrid are still very much contenders.
Without the injured Diego Costa, Atletico Madrid saw the ever-reliable Raul Garcia score the only goal of their game against Villarreal with a 12th minute header.
Atletico then failed to take advantage of their lead and ended up asking for the final whistle after a tired second half display.
That win momentarily lifted them six clear of Real Madrid and four ahead of Barcelona, who were next to play and although the Catalans defeated Betis 3-1, theirs was also a poor performance.
Leo Messi opened the score after Alexis Sanchez won a penalty after 15 minutes and it looked to be all over when Jordi Figueras put through his own goal midway through the second half, but some comical Barca defending allowed Ruben Castro to pull a goal back almost immediately.
Betis created several good chances but apart from a deflected effort from D'iaye failed to test Pinto in the Barca goal and that lack of conviction was punished when Barca were given a second penalty after Antonio Amaya cut out a Neymar cross with his arm.
Antonio Adan saved Messi's spot kick but was unable to stop the Argentinean slotting home the rebound and make the final score 3-1.