Ronaldo hits 30th goal as Real rout Espanyol
Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo took his league tally for the season to 30 as leaders Real Madrid swept aside Espanyol 5-0 at the Bernabeu to restore their 10-point advantage over Barcelona in La Liga on Sunday.
The Portuguese forward, last season`s European Golden Boot winner with 40 league goals, opened the scoring from Gonzalo Higuain`s layoff in the 23rd minute, to take his total in all competitions to 38.
Sami Khedira doubled the lead after playing a one-two with his German international team mate Mesut Ozil in the 38th minute and Higuain buried a third just after the re-start.
Kaka set up the third, bagged the fourth with a run and shot off the post in the 66th, and pulled back for Higuain to hammer the fifth high into the net in the 78th.
Jose Mourinho`s team moved a step closer towards their first league title in four years as they climbed to 67 points with 13 left to play.
"We`re very pleased," Argentina international Higuain told Spanish television.
"There`s still a long way to go so it was important for us to maintain our points advantage."
Champions Barcelona survived a 46th-minute red card for Gerard Pique to beat lowly Sporting Gijon 3-1 at home to move on to 57 points on Saturday.
Sofiane Feghouli earned Valencia a 1-0 victory at Granada, his side`s first road win in La Liga since November, to keep them third in the standings with 43 points.
Home keeper Julio Cesar made a hash of parrying the Frenchman`s tame shot in the 32nd minute in a scrappy match littered with yellow cards.
Valencia`s second league win of 2012 strengthened their hold on third place ahead of Athletic Bilbao in fourth with 37.
Manchester United`s opponents in the Europa League next week moved into the Champions League places with a 2-0 home win over Real Sociedad in the Basque derby.
Markel Susaeta scored in each half, the second a superb freekick struck into the top corner 10 minutes from time.
The visitors from San Sebastian were unlucky not to level at the beginning of the second half when a Carlos Vela shot appeared to cross the line before Gorka Iraizoz got to the ball.
Sixth-placed Levante with 35 points can reclaim fourth place with a win at home to Real Betis on Monday.
Basement side Real Zaragoza kept alive their hopes of avoiding the drop with a 2-1 comeback win against Villarreal, thanks to goals from Luis Garcia and Abraham Minero in the last five minutes.
The cash-strapped club, who are in administration, earned their first home win since October and have 18 points, nine from safety.