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Real Madrid romp, Cristiano limps

Cristiano Ronaldo

Barcelona: Cristiano Ronaldo fired Real Madrid ahead before going off injured as they cruised to a 5-0 win at Almeria to remain six points adrift of leaders Barcelona, who defeated Granada 4-0 earlier on Saturday.

Atletico Madrid then played their part in a day of big wins for the teams at the top of the table when Raul Garcia and David Villa scored two goals apiece to help Atletico Madrid retain a strong hold on second spot with a 7-0 win over 10-man Getafe.

Ronaldo struck after three minutes but the game was still in the balance when he limped off early in the second half. Karim Benzema settled Real’s nerves by curling home the second on 61 minutes before Gareth Bale, Isco and Alvaro Morata consigned Almeria to a resounding defeat.

The main concern was the extent of the leg strain for Ronaldo, who has bagged 14 goals in seven games including four for Portugal in their triumphant two-legged World Cup playoff win over Sweden.

“I don’t think it is important,” Real coach Carlo Ancelotti told a news conference. “He had a problem with his thigh but I don’t think it will be anything as there was no pain. He will be back soon.”

Barca continued to set the pace after first-half penalties by Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas set them up for victory. Visiting Granada had Manuel Iturra dismissed after 66 minutes before Alexis Sanchez and Pedro completed the rout for the champions, who were missing a string of players.

Barcelona have 40 points from 14 games and a three-point lead over Atletico Madrid, with Real a further three points adrift after Saturday’s action. Real pressed Almeria in a storming start and it did not take long for them to go in front as Isco sent Ronaldo through with a searching ball from the right.

Almeria set out to defend deeply with five at the back, a system that has brought them success in recent games, but Real’s quality in attack proved too much. (Reuters)