La Liga Roundup, Feb. 21

Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring and Gonzalo Higuain and Kaka

added two goals apiece as Real Madrid thrashed Villarreal 6-2 on

Sunday to stay within two points of leader Barcelona.

Ronaldo gave Madrid the lead with a dipping freekick in the

18th minute and Kaka doubled the home side’s advantage from the

penalty spot just three minutes later after Ivan Marcano tripped

Higuain.

Marcos Senna’s superb 31st-minute free kick pulled one back

for Villarreal, but Higuain restored Madrid’s two goal advantage

with a blistering diagonal strike in the 54th.

Villarreal fought back to 3-2 with a goal from Nilmar in the

66th. But three goals in the final 20 minutes put Madrid out of

sight.

First, Higuain scored with a tap-in after being set up by

Marcelo’s pass after a move started by Ronaldo.

The Portugal winger was then also instrumental in creating

the final two goals, setting up Kaka for a left-footed shot into

the corner in the 79th and winning the penalty dispatched by Xabi

Alonso three minutes from time.

“It was important to win today to stay with Barcelona,”

Ronaldo said. “We have to keep playing this way to the end.”

Barcelona has 58 points and Madrid 56 points after 23 games.

Valencia, which plays Getafe on Monday, is third with 43 points,

Sevilla has 42, Deportivo La Coruna 38 and Mallorca 37.

The emphatic victory came after Madrid’s disappointing 1-0

loss to Lyon on Tuesday in the Champions League.

“It’s true it’s a good result after Lyon,” Higuain said. “We

were missing a result like this. But what’s important is to keep on

this way.”

Earlier, Athletic Bilbao cruised to a 4-1 victory over 10-man

Tenerife earlier to stay seventh with 36 points.

Tenerife’s Jose Antonio Culebras was red-carded in the 17th

minute to set up Fernando Llorente’s goal from the penalty spot

before Gaizka Toquero half-volleyed past goalkeeper Sergio

Aragoneses five minutes later for 2-0.

Andoni Iraola coolly slotted home at the near post in the

54th before Tenerife pulled a goal back five minutes later through

Alejandro Alfaro’s rifle of a shot, but Igor Gabilondo completed

the easy victory at the San Mames in the 63rd with a volley into

the top corner.

Tenerife remained in the drop zone alongside Valladolid and

Xerez after all three failed to win this weekend.

Valladolid joined Tenerife with 20 points – nine better than

Xerez – after Albert Camunas’ 86th-minute goal rallied Osasuna for

a 1-1 draw. Haris Medunjanin had put Valladolid ahead six minutes

earlier with an impressive strike.

Also on Sunday, Almeria beat Atletico Madrid 1-0, Malaga beat

Espanyol 2-1 and Sporting Gijon won 3-1 at Zaragoza.

Atletico’s defense let goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo down in the

87th minute as it failed to clear an outstanding save and Pablo

Piatti slotted through a crowd for the winner. Atletico, which has

27 points, hit the post and goalkeeper Diego Alves made several

outstanding saves for a clean sheet.

Malaga secured its win in the 75th when Victor Obinna scored

from a goalmouth scramble at La Rosaleda Stadium.

At Zaragoza, Mate Bilic and Luis Moran put Sporting 2-0 up by

the 63rd before Javier Arizmendi headed home in injury-time to cut

the lead in half. But David Barral sealed the points moments later.

Xerez stayed last after a 2-1 loss to Deportivo La Coruna on

Saturday, when Sevilla ended Mallorca’s perfect home record with a

3-1 win.