Real Madrid stay six ahead, Valencia beaten again
By Duncan Shaw Mar 24, 2012, 23:02 GMT
Madrid - Real Madrid stayed six points ahead of Barcelona atop the Spanish Liga on Saturday with a 5-1 home destruction of feeble Real Sociedad.
The pleasant win - with two goals apiece from Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo - left Real with 75 points from 29 games, six more than Barca, who won 2-0 at Mallorca earlier on Saturday.
Real were desperate to win after disappointing draws against Malaga and Villarreal had eroded their 10-point lead.
Real director Emilio Butragueno said afterwards: 'Today we have played well. It was an enjoyable night indeed.'
The whites were without Pepe and Mesut Oezil, both suspended after being sent off in Villarreal - and coach Jose Mourinho had to endure yet another touchline ban.
Gonzalo Higuain settled Real's nerves by making it 1-0 after just six minutes, on a centre from Benzema. Ronaldo then added a second, Benzema made it 3-0 - and Xabi Prieto pulled a goal back for Sociedad.
At the start of the second half, Sami Khedira set up Benzema for his second goal, then Ronaldo made it 5-1 after a clever break engineered by Higuain.
Ronaldo's brace left him level with Barcelona's Messi on 35 goals, a new record at this stage of the season.
Messi gave Barca the lead at Mallorca with a clever free-kick which the local defence failed to cut out.
Mallorca were thrown a lifeline when Thiago was unfairly sent off, but defender Gerard Pique killed the game off by making it 2-0 12 minutes from time, turning in the rebound after a low shot from Messi had come back off the post.
Afterwards, a delighted Pique said: 'It was not an easy game because the pitch was very dry, and this mean that we could not move the ball around freely.
'This win means that we are still alive (in the league). Let's see what happens from now on.'
Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets said: 'This is a difficult place to win, but we deserved to do so today. These are three important points, they take us a little closer to Real Madrid.'
Sunday's late game saw midtable Getafe come from behind to beat third-placed Valencia 3-1.
Spain striker Roberto Soldado gave Valencia an early lead, only for Getafe to turn the game upside down with goals from Pedro Rios and Michu. An own goal from defender Bruno sealed Valencia's fate.
Valencia's fifth defeat in 2012 also sealed the fate of coach Unai Emery, whose contract will not be renewed in June. His inconsistent team are no less than 22 points behind Bareclona, and now only three points ahead of Levante and Malaga, who share fourth place.
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