La Liga Roundup, Dec. 19

Real Madrid served the spectacular performance demanded from coach

Manuel Pellegrini by trouncing troubled Zaragoza 6-0 in its last

game before the Spanish league’s winter break on Saturday.

Madrid improved its standing to 37 points, two behind league

leader Barcelona, which won the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi on

Saturday.

“We’re playing better and better, our dynamic is improving

and today we proved it,” said Gonzalo Higuain, who scored twice.

“Everybody played well.”

Rafael Van der Vaart also notched two, Cristiano Ronaldo

scored, and substitute Karim Benzema celebrated his 22nd birthday

with a goal.

Elsewhere, Getafe beat Sevilla 2-1 with two goals from

Roberto Soldado while Fernando Llorente scored one and set up

another as Athletic Bilbao beat Osasuna 2-0.

Zaragoza sacked coach Marcelino Garcia after last week’s loss

to Athletic Bilbao slipped the club into the relegation zone. This

was caretaker coach Jose Aurelio Gay’s first game in charge, and

the defense was no better against Real Madrid.

Zaragoza’s defense lived up to its billing as the worst in

the league when Higuain coolly slotted past goalkeeper Javier Lopez

in the third minute.

That settled Madrid nerves in the absence of the injured Kaka

and Pepe and the suspended Xabi Alonso.

Van der Vaart’s brace was followed in the 34th by Higuain’s

second, a superb effort. He controlled a fumbled Zaragoza clearance

before driving the ball into the top left corner on the half-turn.

Five minutes after halftime, the lively Ronaldo controlled a

cross from Marcelo and toyed with the defense in the area before

placing his shot into the left side of the net.

Soon after going on for Higuain, Benzema left-footed in a

shot from Van der Vaart’s pass.

Sevilla dominated Getafe for long spells but was let down by

its finishing. Wingers Diego Perotti and Jesus Navas were involved

in many of the attacks as the host tried to exploit the flanks.

A break by Getafe in the 12th minute saw Soldado sprint onto

Jaime Gavilan’s pass and knock the ball past the helpless Andres

Palop. Soldado’s 10th goal of the season was also against the run

of play when defender Sergio Sanchez failed to intercept Juan Angel

Albin’s through pass, letting the Getafe striker burst through and

score from a tight angle on the right.

Loose defending by Getafe after the break allowed Jesus Navas

to cross for Alvaro Negredo who ran the ball into the net.

“This team is showing tremendous confidence,” said Getafe’s

Pedro Leon. “But we still have to keep working.”

Sevilla remained in third place with 30 points.

In San Mames Stadium, Bilbao’s Francisco Yeste scored in the

first minute from a meter (yard) out at the far post after Llorente

dribbled into the area and crossed.

In the 12th, Llorente underlined Bilbao’s superiority,

receiving the ball with his back to goal and dribbling away from

his marker before shooting low into the bottom left corner.

The Osasuna defense struggled to control the home side’s

attack and Carlos Gurpegi nearly scored a third in the 20th,

although goalkeeper Ricardo Lopez blocked his first-time shot from

the edge of the area.

With forwards Walter Pandiani and Carlos Aranda injured,

Osasuna’s lone striker Eduardo “Dady” Fernandes struggled.

Llorente was replaced in the 75th by Oscar de Marcos and in

the 80th Yeste was replaced by Iker Muniain, who was celebrating

his 17th birthday.

The win lifted Bilbao into sixth place, pending Sunday’s

results. Osasuna was 11th.

On Sunday it’s Valladolid vs. Sporting Gijon, Villarreal vs.

Racing Santander, Espanyol vs. Almeria, Malaga vs. Mallorca,

Tenerife vs. Atletico Madrid, and Deportivo La Coruna vs.

Valencia.eat Osasuna 2-0.

A break by Getafe in the 12th minute saw Soldado sprint onto

Jaime Gavilan’s pass and knock the ball past the helpless Andres

Palop. Soldado’s 10th goal of the season was also against the run

of play when defender Sergio Sanchez failed to intercept Juan Angel

Albin’s through pass, letting the Getafe striker burst through and

score from a tight angle on the right.

Loose defending by Getafe after the break allowed Jesus Navas

to cross for Alvaro Negredo who ran the ball into the net.

“This team is showing tremendous confidence,” said Getafe’s

Pedro Leon. “But we still have to keep working.”

Sevilla remains in third place with 30 points although

second-place Real Madrid, on 34, can increase the gap when it hosts

Zaragoza later.

Also on Saturday, leader Barcelona, with 39 points, won the

Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi by beating Estudiantes of Argentina

2-1.

In the San Mames stadium, Francisco Yeste scored in the first

minute from a yard out at the far post after Llorente had dribbled

into the area and crossed.

In the 12th Llorente underlined Bilbao’s superiority,

receiving the ball with his back to goal and dribbling away from

his marker before shooting low into the bottom left corner.

The Osasuna defense struggled to control the home side’s

attack and Carlos Gurpegi nearly scored a third goal in the 20th,

although goalkeeper Ricardo Lopez blocked his first-time shot from

the edge of the area.

Osasuna’s erratic marking was underlined again moments later

when a high, looping cross from the right by Gaizka Toquero was met

by Llorente, who volleyed just wide.

With forwards Walter Pandiani and Carlos Aranda injured,

Osasuna’s lone striker Eduardo “Dady” Fernandes struggled in

attack.

The visitors had a rare chance when Javier Camunas dribbled

into the area in the 68th and goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz stopped his

cross.

Llorente was replaced in the 75th by Oscar de Marcos and in

the 80th Yeste was replaced by Iker Muniain, who was celebrating

his 17th birthday.

The win lifts Bilbao into sixth place, pending Sunday’s

results. Osasuna is 11th.

A minute’s silence was observed in the Sanchez Pizjuan

stadium to honor former Sevilla player Manuel Ruiz Sosa who died

last week.

Despite dominating for long spells Sevilla was let down by

its finishing throughout the game. Wingers Diego Perotti and Jesus

Navas were involved in many of the attacks as the hosts tried to

exploit the flanks.

Navas came close in the 33rd, leaping to meet Fernando

Navarro’s cross and heading wide. The Argentine shot wide again

just before halftime following a long flowing buildup.

Negredo’s goal in the 51st brought Sevilla’s supporters to

life and the Andalusians looked like equalizing as Getafe’s defense

appeared increasingly unsettled.

Perotti found himself through with only goalkeeper Jordi

Codina to beat in the 68th after a poor clearance, however the

winger misjudged his shot and sent the ball wide.

On Sunday it’s Valladolid vs. Sporting Gijon, Villarreal vs.

Racing Santander, Espanyol vs. Almeria, Malaga vs. Mallorca,

Tenerife vs. Atletico Madrid, and Deportivo La Coruna vs. Valencia.