Ronaldo helps Madrid win to reclaim sole lead
By Joseph Wilson ,AP
March 11, 2014, 12:09 am TWN
BARCELONA, Spain -- Cristiano Ronaldo helped Real Madrid reclaim sole possession of the Spanish league on Sunday, scoring one goal and setting up another in a dominant 3-0 victory over 10-man Levante at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Ronaldo recorded his league-leading 24th goal of the season to get Madrid rolling in the 11th minute.
The Ballon d'Or winner then passed for Marcelo to score in the 49th and ensure Madrid extended its undefeated streak in all competitions to 29 straight matches.
With Madrid firmly in control, the game turned testy with several bookings until David Navarro saw a direct red for tackling Ronaldo from behind in the 64th.
Ronaldo went close to getting another goal when he hit the crossbar after Levante defender Nikos Karabelas had already turning in an own goal in the 82nd.
Madrid's win came a week after Ronaldo scored to salvage a draw at Atletico Madrid, and it lifted Carlo Ancelotti's side three points clear of its crosstown rivals at the top of the table.
Barcelona was left four points adrift of the pacesetters following Saturday's stunning 1-0 defeat at Valladolid.
"It's an important moment because everything is turning out well and there is a good atmosphere surrounding the team," said Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti. "We have to continue forward. We have a small advantage in the league but we can't think about anything other than the next game. It's risky not to."
Madrid's placid outing was tarnished when fullback Dani Carvajal collapsed with an apparent leg injury and had to been carried off in the 90th, leaving the hosts with 10 men for stoppage time.
Athletic Bilbao drew 1-1 at Valencia to increase its hold on fourth place and the last Champions League berth.
Sevilla routed Almeria 3-1 on the road to earn its third consecutive victory, while Espanyol also eased to a 3-1 home win over Elche.
Levante was without its two first-choice midfielders in Papakouly Diop and Simao Mate, but it arrived on an eight-round unbeaten run, largely thanks to the outstanding play of goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
And Navas did well to get a glove on Ronaldo's volley to turn back the match's first goal-bound shot in the sixth minute.