Ronaldo, Higuain fire Real back to summit

MADRID: Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain both scored twice as Real Madrid went back to the top of the Spanish League with a 4-2 win at Getafe on Thursday, replacing Barcelona on goal difference.

It was a 10th successive league victory for Real with three goals in the first 23 minutes wrapping up the game as the Madrid giants steamrolled their neighbours. Ronaldo opened the scoring in the 13th minute, curling in a superb free-kick from close range before Argentine striker Higuain marked a century of games with a double inside three minutes to take his season’s tally to 22.

Portuguese star Ronaldo grabbed his second, and 17th of the season, on 37 minutes to make it 4-0 before Real old boy Daniel Parejo pulled a goal back for the hosts in a goal-packed first period. The Coliseum had been a difficult venue for Real over the years, losing 3-1 there last season. But there was no chance of a repeat horror show when Real surged into a four-goal first half lead.

Atletico Madrid warmed up for Sunday’s derby with a 2-0 home win over Athletic Bilbao to boost their chances of sneaking into Europe. Jose Llorente rattled the post in the ninth minute for Bilbao but Atletico rode their luck and Diego Forlan netted his 14th goal of the season early in the second half before Sergio “Kun” Aguero scored a second late on. Atletico move up to eighth and close to within five points of sixth-placed Bilbao and the final European spot.

Stopping free-scoring Real is Atletico’s next task with Ronaldo and Higuain averaging a goal a game this season. A foul right on the edge of the area gave Ronaldo a sight on goal and the former Manchester United man planted a pinpoint free-kick into the corner for a 13th minute opener.

Higuain then got himself on the scoresheet latching on to a Rafael van der Vaart pass before finishing smartly on 20 minutes. Getafe were shocked when the Argentine scored again three minutes later for his 22nd goal of the season, three goals behind Barcelona’s Lionel Messi in the goalscoring charts.

Esteban Granero and Sergio Ramos spurned chances for Real before Ronaldo scored an individual goal with several step-overs before rifling a shot into the net. At 4-0 the game was up although Getafe pulled a goal back a minute later through Parejo following a mistake from Iker Casillas.

Casillas flapped at the ball and tried to atone for his mistake by racing out of his goal but Parejo slid to take the ball and leave the Spanish international goalkeeper in pain on the floor. Parejo slotted the ball in despite pleas to put the ball out with Casillas on the ground injured.

Predictably the second half failed to match the excitement of the action-packed first period with Getafe raising their game after a dreadful first 45 minutes while Real went off the boil. The hosts pulled a second goal back on 80 minutes when a deflected shot fell to Pedro Leon who made no mistake from close range.