Real Madrid hit five, Barcelona keep pace

By IndepthAfrica
In Soccer
Mar 31st, 2012

PAMPLONA, SPAIN - MARCH 31: Karim Benzema (C) of Real Madrid CF celebrates after scoring Real's opening goal during the La Liga match between CA Osasuna and Real Madrid CF at Estadio Reyno de Navarra on March 31, 2012 in Pamplona, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Real Madrid put on a show as they hammered Osasuna 5-1 to increase their hopes of title glory with a brace each for Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain and a stunner from Karim Benzema.
Benzema opened the scoring in spectacular fashion in the seventh minute as Ronaldo got to the byline and cut back a left-footed cross that Benzema brilliantly volleyed back across goal and into the far corner.

Ronaldo doubled his side’s lead on 37 minutes with a thumping drive from 35 yards and the game was effectively over as a contest on 40 minutes when Higuain got in on the action, dinking the ball over the advancing Hernandez after breaking the offside trap.

Nino headed home at the far post from Roversio’s cross to get one back after the break, but Ronaldo scored his second of the night on 70 minutes when he won a debatable free-kick on the edge of the area and then saw his shot deflect in off the heels of substitute Dejan Lekic.

The former Manchester United forward then set up Higuain on 77 minutes to complete the scoring with a simple close-range finish.

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (C) vies with Athletic Bilbao's defender Borja Ekiza (L) and Athletic Bilbao's midfielder Javi Martinez (R) during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs Athletic Bilbao on March 31, 2012 at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona. AFP PHOTO/LLUIS GENE ( LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)

Barcelona kept up the pressure on Real at the top of the table with a 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao thanks to goals from Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi.

Iniesta smashed home the opener into the roof of the net after Alexis Sanchez had won possession and fed Messi, who slotted a ball to his team-mate.

Young winger Christian Tello then gave Barcelona a chance to double the lead as he tricked his way past Javi Martinez in the box and was pushed over from behind by the Spanish international in the 57th minute.

Messi stepped up to slot the penalty home – his 56th goal of the season – to give Barca the win and move to within one goal of Ronaldo in the goalscoring table.

Malaga’s bid for a Champions League spot suffered a blow as they slumped to a 2-0 home defeat to Andalusian rivals Real Betis.

Ruben Castro and Jose Dorado netted the goals in the final five minutes of the first half as Malaga, who could have moved three poitns clear in third place with a victory, suffered a rare defeat after winning five and drawing the other of their previous six matches.

Angel Lafita scored a stoppage-time winner as Real Zaragoza continued their Primera Division revival with a 2-1 victory over Sporting Gijon at El Molinon.

After a nervy opening, Helder Postiga gave the visitors the lead as he raced onto David Mateos’ flick-on to slot past Juan Pablo.

Sebastian Eguren equalised for Sporting three minutes into the second half, taking advantage of poor marking to head home at the back post, but in a dramatic finish Lafita handed Zaragoza their third straight win by sweeping home Franco Zuculini’s cross.

Guilherme Siqueira’s 89th-minute penalty was enough to secure Granada a deserved 1-0 win over Racing Santander in the Primera Division.

The visitors had by far the best of the opening period but failed to make the breakthrough as Odion Ighalo hit the post and Mario Fernandez made smart saves to deny Abel Gomez and Dani Benitez.

Racing improved after the break but still failed to provide any threat in the final third and were finally undone when Bernardo upended Ikechukwu Uche in the final minute and Siqueira calmly sent Mario the wrong way from the spot to ensure Granada move nine points clear of their opponents in the fight for survival.

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