Real Madrid beats Las Palmas 3-1, stays top in Spain

MADRID (AP) Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 13th goal of the season as Real Madrid defeated Las Palmas 3-1 Saturday to remain top of the Spanish league.

Barcelona kept pace by defeating Getafe 2-0 thanks to Neymar’s league-leading ninth goal and Luis Suarez’s 300th career goal.

The Spanish powerhouses have 24 points each from 10 rounds, with Madrid ahead on goal difference. Celta Vigo jumped to third place with a late 3-2 win at Real Sociedad, while fourth-placed Atletico Madrid dropped four points behind the leaders after being held to a 1-1 home draw by Deportivo La Coruna at the Vicente Calderon Stadium on Friday.

At the Santiago Bernabeu, Francisco ”Isco” Alarcon put the hosts ahead just four minutes into the match after a perfect through ball by Casemiro, and Ronaldo added to the lead 10 minutes later with a diving header from a cross by Marcelo. Jese Rodriguez closed the scoring before halftime with a well-struck right-footed shot from inside the area in the 43rd.

Recently promoted Las Palmas scored with Hernan Santana’s header off a 38th-minute corner.

Barcelona earned its third straight victory with goals by Suarez in the 37th and Neymar in the 58th. Sergi Roberto, returning from injury, set up both goals at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez in Madrid.

”We played very intelligently, always looking for solutions to find the spaces,” said Suarez, who scored his eighth league goal.

It was also the third consecutive victory for Real Madrid, which remained without some of its top players because of injuries. Among the players sidelined were goalkeeper Keylor Navas, defender Sergio Ramos, playmaker James Rodriguez and forwards Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale.

Rafa Benitez’s team got off to a quick start with Isco firing a shot into the far corner after a well-timed pass by Brazilian defensive midfielder Casemiro. Captain Marcelo set up Ronaldo’s firm header from near the penalty spot, and Rodriguez cleared a defender inside the area before striking a low shot into the back of the net.

It was Ronaldo’s eighth league goal and 13th in as many matches this season. The Portuguese striker now has 234 in the league, tied with former Madrid striker Hugo Sanchez.

Ronaldo had a great chance to add another goal on Saturday in second-half injury time, but his shot from just in front of the goal was blocked by Las Palmas goalkeeper Javi Varas.

”Again we had a sensational start, we played very well in the first half,” Benitez said. ”We tried to maintain the same intensity in the second half but unfortunately we were not able to do it and we could not get another goal.”

Las Palmas remains with only one victory this season and has lost four of its last five games.

It was the first time Madrid faced the Canary Islands team since striker Fernando Morientes scored five goals in a 7-0 win at the Bernabeu in 2002. Madrid had outscored Las Palmas 17-1 in the last three games entering Saturday’s matchup. Real Madrid has never lost to Las Palmas at the Bernabeu, having won 28 times and drawn four.

The Spanish powerhouse now turns its focus to the Champions League match against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday in Madrid. The teams lead Group A in the European competition.

In other Spanish league results Saturday, fifth-place Villarreal defeated Sevilla 2-1, while sixth-place Valencia beat city rival Levante 3-0.

Tales Azzoni is on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni