Real maintain lead, Barça keep chase

Saturday Sporting     1-2     Zaragoza Racing     0-1     Granada Osasuna     1-5     Real Madrid Barcelona     2-0     Athletic Málaga     0-2     Betis
Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain celebrate. Net photo.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain celebrate. Net photo.

Saturday
Sporting     1-2     Zaragoza
Racing     0-1     Granada
Osasuna     1-5     Real Madrid
Barcelona     2-0     Athletic
Málaga     0-2     Betis

MADRID Ronaldo took his La Liga tally to 37 goals as Real Madrid maintained their six-point lead over Barcelona today with a 5-1 rout of Osasuna. But Barça kept up the pressure with a 2-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao in a game which saw Lionel Messi take his league scoring total to 36.

Karim Benzema sent Real on their way with a delightful volley in the opening minutes. Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain both then found the target with the Argentinian notching up his 100th career goal for the club.

While Osasuna threatened a brief comeback after the break through a Juan Francisco ‘Nino’ header, Ronaldo struck again after 69 minutes and Higuain wrapped up the scoring.

“I dream of winning La Liga and I haven’t considered for one moment that we could lose it,” said Ronaldo.  “But there are still eight games to play and we know that we have to keep winning because Barcelona are still on our heels.”

A minute from the end, Osasuna substitute Roland Lamah was dismissed for a second yellow card as his team’s six-match unbeaten run came to an end on the day that coach Jose Luis Mendilibar had extended his contract for another year.

Barça beat Athletic

At Camp Nou, Barcelona went ahead five minutes before the break through Andres Iniesta and then, following the restart, Messi scored his 36th league goal of the season after Cristian Tello was felled in the box.

The Argentinian now has 56 goals in all tournaments this season, nine more than his great rival at Real.

Athletic had less than 48 hours to prepare for the match following their 4-2 victory over Schalke in the UEFA Europa League and they made several changes to the side leaving out valuable players like Fernando Llorente and Iker Muniain.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said he would not keep players in reserve with the second leg of their UEFA Champions League tie coming up against AC Milan following the 0-0 at the San Siro last Wednesday. Even so Xavi Hernandez and Carles Puyol found themselves on the bench.

Defender Jon Aurtenetxe headed a Gerard Pique effort off the line, but a goal for Barcelona was on the cards and it arrived through Iniesta after 40 minutes.

Tello was causing problems for the Athletic defence and he was felled by Javi Martinez in the penalty area after 57 minutes with Messi firing in Barcelona’s second from the spot.

 

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