|Real talisman Cristiano Ronaldo kicked home his 28th goal of the season in the opening minutes of the game [GETTY]
A Cristiano Ronaldo header set Real Madrid on their way to a 4-0 win at home to 10-man Racing Santander on Saturday that stretched their advantage over second-placed Barcelona to 13 points at the top Spain’s Primera Division.
Ronaldo's sixth-minute goal from a clever Kaka assist was his 28th of the season in the league, putting the Portuguese forward five clear of Barca's World Player of the Year Lionel Messi at the top of the scoring charts.
Santander, who are 18th in the standings, were reduced to 10 men six minutes before the break when the referee ruled defender Domingo Cisma had handled the ball for a second time in the game and showed him a second yellow card.
Real doubled their lead in added time when a dinked Karim Benzema effort was deflected over the line by Santander defender Bernardo under pressure from Sergio Ramos.
Substitute Angel Di Maria, back after injury, netted the third goal and the best of the night in the 73rd minute when he powered a left-foot strike past goalkeeper Tono from just outside the area.
Benzema's deflected effort made it 4-0 a minute from time to seal an 18th win for Jose Mourinho's side in 19 league matches since the end of September and lift them to 61 points from 23 games.
Barca, who beat arch-rivals Real 3-1 at the Bernabeu in December but have otherwise suffered patchy away form, can trim the gap to 10 points with a win at home to third-placed Valencia on Sunday.
However, with Real in such imperious form and unlikely to drop many points, the world and European champions' bid for a fourth straight domestic title already appears a lost cause.
Benzema said the comfortable win was ideal preparation for Tuesday's Champions League last-16 first leg at CSKA Moscow.
"It was a great game for us tonight and now we'll try to do the same on Tuesday," the French international told Spanish television.
In the earlier kickoff, Espanyol climbed above Levante into the fourth Champions League qualification place despite surrendering the lead in a 1-1 draw at Getafe.
Espanyol have 33 points, one ahead of Levante who host Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.