MADRID, September 23- Real Madrid kept pace with champions Barcelona at the top of the Spanish First Division defeating 10-man Villarreal 2-0 at El Madrigal on Wednesday with Cristiano Ronaldo continuing his goal-a-game record while Brazilian Kaka scored his first Real goal from the penalty spot.
Ronaldo scored a great solo goal in the very first minute to make it five goals in four games and Kaka converted a controversial penalty for his first goal in Real’s colours.
"It was important to start (the season) winning games," said Ronaldo. "I am really happy to win here and also to continue scoring goals.
"Villarreal are strong at home but we managed to get the three points."
It was a fourth straight win for Real as they joined Barcelona, who defeated Racing Santander 4-1 on Tuesday, on a maximum 12 points.
It was a special win for Real coach Manuel Pellegrini – who spent five successful seasons at Villarreal – and also captain Raul who came on as a substitute to equal Manolo Sanchis’s league appearance record of 504 games.
It was a great day for Real but new Villarreal coach Ernesto Valverde is feeling the heat as he searches for his first win in charge after two draws and two losses.
"The sending off changed the match and I don’t think the handball (for the penalty) was intentional but the referee decided otherwise," bemoaned Valverde.
Ronaldo has so far not had any problems living up to his world record fee and opened the scoring in the very first minute.
The Portuguese international produced a neat turn before showing a great turn of pace to skip past two defenders and fire into the bottom corner.
The former Manchester United man joins Barcelona’s Lionel Messi on five goals at the top of the goal-scoring charts and is developing a habit of early goals having scored in the first minute in Sunday’s 5-0 drubbing of Xerez.
Gonzalo Higuain should have netted a second on 22 minutes but shot wide after Marcelo had put the chance on a plate for the Argentine.
Villarreal were handicapped from the 34th minute when stand-in captain Gonzalo Rodriguez picked up a somewhat harsh red card for clipping Kaka in the ribs.
However, the ten men of Villarreal almost equalised early in the second period with Giuseppe Rossi drawing a fine save from Iker Casillas.
Strangely Villarreal played better with one man less as Real failed to build on a promising first half display.
Pellegrini responded by bringing on Raul for his record equalling league appearance.
A fortunate penalty gifted Real the second goal they craved with Marcelo’s cross accidentally hand-balled on 72 minutes.
Kaka ignored the angry jeers from the home fans to send the goalkeeper the wrong way for his first Real goal.
Neighbours Atletic Madrid were jeered off the pitch at the Vicente Calderon after a 2-2 draw with Almeria on Tuesday.
A late goal from Argentine Pablo Piatti denied Atletico a first win of the season and coach Abel Resino is increasingly under pressure with the club, fourth last season, sitting second from bottom on one point.
In other matches, Athletic Bilbao saw their perfect start come to an end with a 1-0 defeat by promoted Tenerife.
Mikel Alonso, the elder brother of Real Madrid’s Xabi Alonso, scored a late winner to stop Bilbao from joining Barca and Real on 12 points.
Elsewhere Xerez are still searching for their first ever goal and point in the Spanish top-flight after a 3-0 home loss against Deportivo La Coruna.
It is Xerez’s first ever season in the Spanish top division but it has not started well with no goals and no points from the first four games.
Unbeaten Valencia travel to Getafe later on Wednesday aiming to continue their positive start of seven points from nine.