Real Madrid coach Juande Ramos paid tribute to captain Raul after the former Spain international scored twice in Real? 4-0 win over Sporting Gijon to become the club? all-time leading scorer with 309 goals.
Raul, 31, scored twice to overtake Alfredo di Stefano? long-standing record of 307 as Real marched to an eighth successive league win that helped them close to within 10 points of leaders Barcelona.
?t will be many years before there is another player that emerges to beat his record,?Ramos said. ?he team scores the goals, but Raul has had a great career over many years and deserves all the praise that comes his way.?br />
Dutch forward Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was also on target with his first Real goal, while Brazilian Marcelo also grabbed a rare goal. Real have managed to shave two points off Barcelona? lead this weekend after their rivals?run of 10 consecutive wins came to an end with a 2-2 draw at Real Betis on Saturday.
?e are a bit closer after cutting Barcelona? lead by two points, but it is still going to be difficult,?Ramos said. ?t is not in our hands after all.?br />
Real are 10 points behind Barcelona with 15 games left, although the leaders have the superior head-to-head record having beaten Real 2-0 at the Camp Nou in December.
Real paid a costly price for the international friendlies in midweek with Dutch winger Arjen Robben picking up a knock.
Rafael van der Vaart was also suspended, forcing Ramos to switch things around, but Huntelaar was not complaining as he was handed a rare start up front.
Raul struck after 15 minutes with his record-breaking 308th goal in Real? colors and Sporting ?hammered 7-1 by Real in September ?justifiably feared another rout.
Huntelaar had not scored for Real since a 20 million euro (US$26 million) move from Ajax, but broke his duck with a neat finish on 37 minutes.
Marcelo, jeered by Real fans on several occasions this season, then produced a deft finish to wrap up the game early in the second period, before Raul netted again.
Villarreal, who finished above Barcelona last season but have been anything but consistent this campaign, drew 1-1 with Racing Santander on Sunday.
Villarreal are now locked on 38 points with Valencia.
After three straight defeats, Sevilla got back to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over 10-man Espanyol to go third, three points clear of Valencia and Villarreal.
Frederic Kanoute, 31, scored twice in the final seven minutes to leave Espanyol deflated.
?t was a match where we were constantly searching for the breakthrough,?Sevilla coach Manolo Jimenez said. ?e had lots of chances, hit the woodwork twice and [Carlos] Kameni made some great saves.?br />
Espanyol have not won since the beginning of November and fell to the foot of the table, three points from safety, after Real Mallorca climbed above them with a 1-0 win over fellow strugglers Numancia.
Atletico Madrid could not take advantage of slips from Valencia and Villarreal, drawing 1-1 with derby rivals Getafe.
Diego Forlan scored his 15th goal of the season to put Atletico ahead, but Juan Albin equalized in the 88th minute for Getafe.
It was an emotional roller coaster for Albin, who had horribly skied a penalty over the crossbar eight minutes before his leveler.
?e had to win this match, so this is a missed opportunity,?Forlan said. ?e had to get the second goal, but we didn? and paid the price.?br />