Ron­aldo off to the fastest-ever La Liga start

JoongAng Daily - - Sports - AP

Cris­tiano Ron­aldo net­ted his 14th and 15th g1oals to set a record scor­ing start in a Span­ish league sea­son as Real Madrid eased to a 5-0 win at Le­vante on Satur­day, while Lionel Messi also scored to move within one of the league’s all-time scorer.

Messi guided league leader Barcelona to a 3-0 win at home over pro­moted Eibar, set­ting up Xavi Her­nan­dez to break through in the sec­ond half and scor­ing after Ney­mar had dou­bled the lead.

Messi is poised to equal Telmo Zarra’s mile­stone of 251 goals that has stood since 1955 next week at ri­val Madrid’s Santiago Bern­abeu Sta­dium.

Barcelona goal­keeper Clau­dio Bravo also ex­tended his record of not con­ced­ing a goal to eight matches as the Cata­lan club main­tained its four-point ad­van­tage over Madrid at the top of the stand­ings.

“We will go out to win at the Bern­abeu as we have al­ways done, es­pe­cially in re­cent years,’’ said Barcelona Coach Luis En­rique.

Va­len­cia and Sevilla can pass sec­ond-place Madrid on Sun­day.

While Messi closed on Zarra, Ron­aldo made sure to make his own mark by break­ing a record that had stood since the 1943-44 sea­son, when Oviedo’s Este­ban Echevar­ria scored 14 goals through the first eight matches.

The Bal­lon d’Or holder opened from the penalty spot in the 13th minute be­fore adding another goal in the 61st, in­creas­ing his league-lead­ing tally to 15 goals in eight matches, de­spite miss­ing one game due to in­jury.

“It is im­pos­si­ble to do more than what [Ron­aldo] does,’’ said Madrid Coach Carlo Ancelotti. “There are no goals with­out sacrifice, a fight­ing spirit and con­cen­tra­tion.’’

Javier Her­nan­dez, James Ro­driguez and Francisco “Isco” Alar­con also scored to rout the over­matched hosts at Ci­u­tat de Va­len­cia Sta­dium.

Ancelotti said that Gareth Bale didn’t play be­cause of pain in his glu­teus. The man­ager rested him as a pre­cau­tion with Madrid vis­it­ing Liver­pool in the Cham­pi­ons League on Wed­nes­day be­fore the first “cla­sico’’ match of the sea­son three days later.

Else­where, Manuel “Nolito’’ Agudo con­tin­ued his strong cam­paign by scor­ing in the 73rd to give Celta Vigo a 1-1 draw at Ath­letic Bil­bao, keep­ing the Basque club with one win in 10 matches in all com­pe­ti­tions not count­ing its elim­i­na­tion of Napoli from the Cham­pi­ons League play­offs.

Malaga set­tled for a 2-1 win at Cordoba that could have been big­ger on first-half goals by Sa­muel Gar­cia and Nordin Am­ra­bat be­fore Na­bil Ghi­las pulled on back in in­jury time. Malaga stayed in the up­per half of the ta­ble while Cordoba re­mained the only win­less side in the 20-team top di­vi­sion.

Ron­aldo has scored 19 goals in all com­pe­ti­tions and found the net in 10 of his 12 ap­pear­ances over­all for Madrid. He also grabbed a stop­page-time win­ner for Por­tu­gal in a 1-0 vic­tory over Den­mark in a Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship qual­i­fier on Tues­day.

Her­nan­dez had a part in Ron­aldo’s first goal when he took a pass in the area and was fouled from be­hind by Juan­fran Gar­cia. Ron­aldo stepped up and drove in the spot kick.

Her­nan­dez played well in place of the ill Karim Ben­zema and scored in the 38th when he headed Ro­driguez’s cross in off the grass.

Ron­aldo made it 3-0 with an elec­tri­fy­ing slalom to drib­ble past two de­fend­ers and cap a coun­ter­at­tack started by Isco.

Ro­driguez scored five min­utes later after deftly con­trol­ling Toni Kroos’ lobbed pass with his chest, and Isco fin­ished off the de­mor­al­ized Le­vante in the 82nd.

Madrid’s Luka Mo­dric was sub­sti­tuted in the 79th for a pos­si­ble leg in­jury, giv­ing Al­varo Me­dran his de­but.

Eibar was not in­tim­i­dated by its first match at Camp Nou, choos­ing its mo­ments well to go for­ward and almost sur­prised Barcelona twice in an evenly-matched first half.

For­ward An­der Capa mis­fired on an open goal from an an­gle in the 41st after he re­ceived a long pass and rounded Bravo, and three min­utes later Bravo had to rush out to block Saul Ber­jon’s at­tempt.

Eibar hung on for an hour un­til Messi turned play­maker by pick­ing out Xavi’s run and thread­ing a ball through for the cap­tain to score in the 60th.

Ney­mar calmed the un­easy Camp Nou crowd by vol­ley­ing in Dani Alves’ cross in the 72nd for his eighth league goal.

[AP/NEW­SIS]

Real Madrid’s Cris­tiano Ron­aldo cel­e­brates his sec­ond goal of the day against Le­vante dur­ing a La Liga match Satur­day in Va­len­cia, Spain.

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