Ronaldo, Messi lead Spanish twin giants to impressive wins

Sunday, October 31, 2010

MADRID - Spanish twin giants Real Madrid and Barcelona scored impressive wins Saturday, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi banging in the goals.

Ronaldo scored two vital late goals in Real’s 3-1 comeback win at Hercules, while Messi put away two of his own in Barca’s 5-0 thrashing of feeble Sevilla. Spain striker David Villa added a brace for Barca.

Ronaldo is league top scorer with 12 goals, while Messi is second with seven.

Earlier Saturday, Valencia were held to a 1-1 draw at home to lowly Zaragoza, a result which keeps them in fourth place but now six points behind Real.

The results suggest that the battle for the Liga title will once again be a two-horse race between Real and Barca. The whites are leaders with 23 points from nine games, while Barca are just one point behind.

Villarreal will be level with Barca in second place if they manage to beat lowly Sporting Gijon away Sunday.

In Alicante, veteran striker David Trezeguet gave Hercules an early lead, but keeper Juan Calatayud made crucial mistakes on Real’s first two goals.

Two-goal hero Ronaldo said: “I am happy because we continue as leaders. The team is in good shape, and we are all content.”

The Portuguese striker then praised Real coach Jose Mourinho for giving “perfect instructions at half-time, when we were losing”.

Ronaldo had words of praise for Karim Benzema, who came off the bench, livened up the Real attack - and contributed to all three of Real’s goals.

Trezequet gave Hercules a shock lead after just four minutes when, completely unmarked, he headed in a centre from right-back David Cortes.

The French veteran could have made it 2-0 minutes later but this time headed straight at Iker Casillas.

Real gradually took control in midfield, with the hosts content to fall back and play on the break.

Seven minutes into the second half came the unsurprising equalizer. The shaky Calatayud failed to hold a drive from Ronaldo, and Angel Di Maria followed up to make it 1-1 with his left foot.

From then on it was all one-way traffic. Ronaldo made it 2-1 eight minutes from time after Calatayud could only parry a shot from Karim Benzema, following a penetrating run by Marcelo down the left.

Four minutes later Benzema, finally looking like an asset for Real, centred from the right for Ronaldo to make it 3-1 on the near post.

Then came Barca’s destruction of Sevilla, who have conceded 17 goals in their last three visits to the Camp Nou.

Messi shot Barca ahead after just five minutes after a parry by nervous keeper Javi Varas, who had a bad night standing in for the injured Andres Palop.

Villa made it 2-0 in the 24th minute with a handsome, left-footed high drive, his first goal in a month.

Sevilla were reduced to 10 men when right-back Andoulay Konko earned himself a second yellow card for pulling down little winger Pedro.

Barca’s third goal was a spectacular flying volley from Dani Alves, taking advantage of a senseless headed back-pass from Koffi Romaric. Messi made it 4-0 with a low left-foot drive, and Villa completed the rout with a similarly well-placed shot.

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