Tue, Mar 11, 2014 - Page 19 News List

Real punish Barca defeat to regain three-point lead

BACK ON TOP:A 3-0 rout of Levante saw Real extend their unbeaten streak to 29 in all tournaments and nab the Liga lead from Atletico, as they eye their first treble

Reuters, MADRID

Real Madrid took full advantage of Barcelona’s shock defeat at Real Valladolid on Saturday with a 3-0 home win over 10-man Levante UD on Sunday that put Carlo Ancelotti’s in-form side three points clear at the top of La Liga.

Cristiano Ronaldo — La Liga’s top scorer this season — took his tally to 24 when he headed the opener from Angel di Maria’s corner in the 11th minute, before Marcelo added a second from Ronaldo’s assist four minutes after the break.

David Navarro was harshly shown a red card in the 64th for an innocuous-looking tackle on Ronaldo and fellow Levante defender Nikos Karampelas scored an own-goal nine minutes from time.

Ronaldo, who became Portugal’s all-time top scorer with a double against Cameroon in last week’s friendly, came close to a second at the Santiago Bernabeu in the 90th minute when he headed against the crossbar, while Gareth Bale whistled one past the post in stoppage-time.

“We couldn’t afford to stumble today and, of course, it’s better when the others lose, but we are focusing on ourselves,” Real defender Marcelo told Canal Plus TV.

Real are unbeaten in 29 matches in all competitions and have 67 points in the league with 11 matches left, while Atletico Madrid are three behind in second after winning 2-0 at RC Celta de Vigo on Saturday.

Champions Barcelona, who visit Real to dispute a Clasico clash on March 24, turned in one of their worst performances of the campaign on Saturday at relegation-haunted Valladolid and slipped to third place with 63 points.

Real are well-placed in all three competitions they are contesting and a treble of Champions League, La Liga and the Copa del Rey — which would be a first for the world’s richest club — is within reach.

They have a 6-1 lead over Schalke 04 ahead of their last-16 second leg in Europe’s elite club competition on Tuesday next week and meet Barca in the Copa final in Valencia on April 16.

Also on Sunday, fourth-placed Athletic Bilbao — on 51 points — missed a chance to open a nine-point lead over fifth-placed Villarreal (44) when they drew 1-1 at Valencia.

Paco Alcacer put eighth-placed Valencia, who have 36 points, ahead in the 23rd minute and Aritz Aduriz leveled from the penalty spot eight minutes into the second half.

In other Liga action, Sevilla, in seventh on 41 points, boosted their bid to qualify for Europe with a 3-1 win at UD Almeria, while ninth-placed RCD Espanyol also stayed in the hunt with a 3-1 win at home to Elche that put them on 36 points.

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