Tue, Feb 18, 2014 - Page 19 News List

Real rejoin Barca, Atletico at the top in three-way tie

TITLE TITANS:Jese, Benzema and Modric all scored to show that Real can win without star striker Ronaldo, who was suspended, and keep their side in the race for La Liga

Reuters, MADRID

Real Madrid extended their unbeaten run to 25 matches to rejoin Barcelona and Atletico Madrid on 60 points at the top of La Liga after Jese, Karim Benzema and Luka Modric scored in a 3-0 drubbing of Getafe on Sunday.

Barcelona and Atletico recorded easy home wins on Saturday, with the champions thrashing Rayo Vallecano de Madrid 6-0 and Atletico thumping Real Valladolid 3-0 to leave the title race a tight three-way fight with 14 matches left.

Barca, who are chasing their fifth crown in six years, lead Real and Atletico on goal-difference, but the three teams — who have all played 24 games — will be separated by their head-to-head records if they are still tied at the end of the campaign.

Real have not lost since suffering a 2-1 La Liga defeat at Barca at the end of October last year, after being beaten 1-0 at home by Atletico in the league a month earlier.

Barca and Atletico drew 0-0 in Madrid last month.

“We have to carry on like this because the important part of the season is starting now,” Real coach Carlo Ancelotti said, referring to the Champions League last-16 first leg at Schalke 04 on Thursday next weel.

“We are more solid and have more confidence,” the Italian told a news conference. “We are in good physical and mental shape.”

Sunday’s other Liga action saw Athletic Bilbao lose 2-1 at home to RCD Espanyol in the Basque club’s first league defeat at their new Estadio San Mames, putting them fourth on 44 points.

Espanyol have 32 points in ninth, five behind sixth-placed Real Sociedad, who were to visit struggling Malaga yesterday.

At the Estadio Sanchez pizjuan, Sevilla failed to kill off Valencia despite playing most of the second half with an extra man after the dismissal of centerback Ricardo Costa in a poor-quality match littered with yellow cards. Home midfielder Ivan Rakitic had a penalty saved by Diego Alves to leave the score at 0-0 and the two teams tied on 32 points, with Sevilla in seventh position and Valencia eighth.

In Sunday’s midday kickoff, bottom club Real Betis Balompie look destined for the drop after they lost 1-0 at Andalusian rivals Granada.

Seville-based Betis have won just three league games this season and have 14 points, six adrift of 19th-placed Rayo. Getafe are 15th on 25 points, two fewer than Granada in 12th.

Real Madrid were missing La Liga top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo for their trip to the Spanish capital’s suburbs and it was Jese — the player brought in for the suspended Portugal forward — who opened the scoring at Getafe’s Coliseum Alfonso Perez in the fifth minute.

France forward Benzema finished off a swift break with some neat control and a clinical shot in the 27th, while Croatia midfielder Modric fired the third from just outside the penalty area in the 66th.

“I am happy with the goals I am giving to the team,” said Jese, a product of Real’s academy who has been in good form in recent weeks.

“It is important the coach has faith in me and I am grateful,” added the forward, who turns 21 on the day of the Champions League first leg at Schalke.

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