Ronaldo gets brace in Madrid win
BARCELONA, Spain (AP)
Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 49th and 50th goals in all competitions this season as Real Madrid won 3-0 at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, while Barcelona didn't need Lionel Messi to brush aside Real Zaragoza 3-0 and ease closer to the Spanish league title.
Ronaldo opened with a dipping free kick two minutes in and scored again in the 69th, before passing for Gonzalo Higuain to net a third in the 76th.
''We have a great player in Ronaldo,'' Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso said. ''We hope our dependence on him isn't noticeable. He is so competitive. He wants to play every game and score as many goals he can.
''We got a great result tonight that lets us continue in second place.''
Ronaldo struck a perfect free kick to put Madrid ahead at San Mames Stadium.
Known for his blistering long-range blasts, Ronaldo instead used an exquisite bending effort to swerve the ball over the barrier and land it beyond the reach of goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz.
Bilbao responded well, but Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez got just enough of Markel Susaeta's and Ander Herrera's shots to push them wide and protect the lead until Ronaldo struck again in the 69th.
After Ronaldo had complained vehemently following a collision with Ander Iturraspe at the beginning of the second half, the Portugal forward fought off Ramalho to thump home Xabi Alonso's free kick with a stinging header. Ronaldo has scored league 31 goals - 12 fewer than Messi, who has scored 57 in all competitions.
Ronaldo capped his outstanding night by beating the offside trap with a pass that Higuain drove past Iraizoz.