MADRID, Nov 1 (Reuters) Real Madrid hit four goals in a devastating first-half spell as they stormed to a 5-1 away win over Valencia at the Mestalla.
A second-minute strike from Raul, a Ruud van Nistelrooy double and a superb shot from defender Sergio Ramos put Bernd Schuster's side 4-0 up after just 37 minutes while Robinho added a classy fifth midway through the second half yesterday.
The win left Real four points clear of Villarreal at the top of the table and five ahead of Barcelona who are away at Valladolid today.
Villarreal moved into second spot after a crushing 3-0 win at home to basement side Levante, the goals coming courtesy of an early strike from Mexico international Guillermo Franco, a Giuseppe Rossi penalty and a Pascal Cygan header.
Levante, the only side in the Primera Liga yet to post a win this season, remain anchored to the foot of the table with just one point from 10 games.
Atletico Madrid moved up to fourth, level on 20 points with Barca after a highly entertaining 4-3 win over Sevilla at the Calderon.
Argentine forward Maxi Rodriguez put 3-2 up with a spectacular flying volley 20 minutes from time and midfielder Jurado added a fourth with a classy finish before Luis Fabiano pulled back a late goal back for the visitors with his second of the night.
Valencia sacked their coach Quique Sanchez Flores after Sunday's 3-0 defeat at Sevilla, but if the move was designed to spark a reaction from the team it backfired spectacularly as Raul put Real in front with just over a minute on the clock.
DELIGHTFUL FINISH The Real striker stroked home from the edge of the area to score his fifth goal of the season after Robinho had sliced his way through the ragged Valencia back four.
Strike partner Van Nistelrooy missed a double opportunity to extend his side's lead moments after, but the Dutchman atoned for his error when he scored a delightful second on 25 minutes.
Racing on to a clever headed pass from Raul, he fended off a challenge from former Real Madrid team mate Ivan Helguera and then finished off with by dinking the ball over bemused keeper Timo Hildebrand.
Valencia were still reeling from the blow when Ramos made it 3-0, the right back firing an angled shot off the far post after a superb through-ball from Guti.
But there was no let up from the visitors and Van Nistelrooy added a fourth on 37 minutes, steering in from close range after Robinho had volleyed across the area following another classy pass from Guti.
Valencia pulled a goal back through midfielder Miguel Angel Angulo just before the hour, but Robinho snuffed out any hopes of an unlikely comeback when he turned inside a defender and beat Hildebrand with a fierce shot.
The home side's misery was further compounded when defender Raul Albiol was sent off seven minutes from time for a foul on Robinho.
Valencia president Juan Soler said after the match that the club would unveil Ronald Koeman as their new coach on Friday.
REUTERS RAR AS0936