Real Madrid crushes Valladolid

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{image-real madrid_11022008.jpg www.oneindia.com}Madrid, Feb 11: Real Madrid were the toast of European football after they thrashed a hapless Valladolid 7-0 Sunday.

Real's biggest margin victory since 2002 puts them eight points clear of second spot holder Barcelona, who were held to a 1-1 draw Saturday by Sevilla. Real ran up the score despite star striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy absence, ruled out of the match because of an injury and despite Robinho limping off after just after 15 minutes. By then, Real were already up 1-0, Julio Baptista having opened their account in the ninth minute from a Arjen Robben pass.

The hosts then electrified the packed Estadio Bernabeu by scoring four more goals in a remarkable 15-minute onslaught before halftime. Veteran Raul Gonzalez put two of them away, one from the penalty spot - and the others by Robben and Guti.

Real, who have won every home league game this season, eased off in the second half. Every time they attacked Valladolid goal, another goal seemed on the cards, so feeble was the visitors' defence.

Guti made it 6-0 with a left-footed shot in the 62nd minute, and Royston Drenthe completed the rout just 10 minutes from time.

Valladolid were desperate to score a consolation goal, but Borja Valero and Joseba Llorente were foiled by Real custodian Iker Casillas.

Real now have 56 points from 23 games and are well placed to clinch their 31st Liga title. Barcelona have 48 points, and Villarreal, who won 1-0 Saturday in Murcia, have 42.

Earlier Sunday, Atletico Madrid moved up to fourth place by winning 2-0 against sixth-placed Racing Santander. Espanyol, who surprisingly lost 2-1 at home to a lowly Recreativo Huelva, also helped their cause in climbing up the points table.

After Sunday's victory, Atletico have 41 points, two more than Espanyol and seven more than Santander.

Chilean forward Diego Forlan scored two late goals for Atletico and ended his two-month goal drought. He put Atletico ahead in the 56th minute, after a good run by teenage partner Sergio Aguero.

In the 74th minute, Forlan finished Santander off with a second goal, this time with his left foot.

The hero for Huelva was Florent Sinama-Pongolle, who silenced the crowd in the Olympic Stadium with early goals in the 18th and 26th minutes.

Ewerthon -- standing in for the injured Raul Tamudo -- pulled a goal back for Espanyol five minutes before halftime, but Huelva held on despite the late sending-off of Poli Fernandez.

The unlikely win takes Huelva up to fourth from bottom with 25 points.

Level with Huelva on 25 is Betis, who lost 3-1 to a resurgent Valencia in Sunday's late game.

David Villa and David Silva put Valencia ahead in the first half. Edu then pulled one back for Betis just after halftime, but Villa settled the issue with a classy late free kick.

Valencia is still ninth on 33 pointss but in much better shape no than two weeks ago, with Villa back among the scorers.

One point below Betis and Huelva is Deportivo Coruna, who were held to a 1-1 draw Saturday by Getafe.

Then come Murcia on 23 points and bottom team Levante, who lost 1-0 in Bilbao, on just 13.

Osasuna stay just above the relegation zone after a 1-0 win over Zaragoza.

Sunday's other early game was a 0-0 draw between 11th-place Mallorca and Almeria, who are placed eighth.

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