Real Madrid went three points clear atop the Spanish Liga Sunday with a 3-0 home thrashing of 10-man Levante.
The comfortable win left Los Blancos with 67 points from 27 games, which is three more than neighbours Atletico — who won 2-0 Saturday at Celta Vigo — and four more than troubled Barcelona, who crashed 1-0 at lowly Valladolid Saturday.
Real have dropped just six points in their last 17 matches, whilst Atletico and Barca have stuttered and stumbled.
2013 world player Cristiano Ronaldo gave Real the lead in the 12th minute by heading in a centre from Angel di Maria, then set up left-back Marcelo to make it 2-0 in the 50th minute with a cool finish.
Levante had veteran defender David Navarro rather harshly sent off for an ugly foul on Ronaldo, then Levante’s Nikos Karabelas made it 3-0 with a bizarre own goal by turning a centre from Marcelo into his own goal.
The final result would have been even harsher on Levante had it not been for an impressive string of saves from promising goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Earlier Sunday, Sevilla and Espanyol kept intact their hopes of playing European football next season, by beating Almeria and Elche Sunday.
Sevilla enjoyed a 3-1 win at lowly Almeria, on goals from Carlos Bacca, Daniel Carrico and Kevin Gameiro. Aleix Vidal scored a late consolation goal for Almeria, who are third from bottom.
“We really had to win today, in order to move up the table. We were by far the better team,” said Bacca.
Meanwhile, Almeria’s Rodri said: “Sevilla are a very good team and improving all the time. We knew it was going to be difficult against them, and it certainly was.
“Now we just have to focus on avoiding relegation — that is our only objective now.” Sevilla are now seventh, two points below sixth-placed Real Sociedad, who host troubled Rayo Vallecano Monday.
Sevilla are five points above eighth-placed Espanyol, who beat Elche 3-1 at home earlier Sunday, with goals from David Lopez, Diego Colotto and Pizzi.
Elche managed a late consolation in the form of an own goal from Espanyol’s Juan Fuentes.
“We have taken an important step towards our real objective, which is to avoid relegation,” said Espanyol coach Javier Aguirre.
“We have 36 points now, which does not guarantee us salvation. We will start to think about Europe when we have 50 points, not before.” Aguirre was annoyed at having to kick off at noon local time, under a hot early spring sun: “It was really hard for the players today, in these conditions.” Elche boss Fran Escriva agreed the conditions were difficult, saying: “It was not easy out there for either team. ... By the time we had adapted to the conditions, we were 2-0 down and the game was almost over.” Elche fell down to 14th, just three points above the relegation zone.