Bale doubles up as Real thump Rayo

Real thrash Rayo Vallecano 5-0, Lionel Messi's penalty seals a 1-0 win for Barca and Atletico stay top of La Liga.

    Real, who host Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday, are third in La Liga [AFP]
    Real, who host Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday, are third in La Liga [AFP]

    Real Madrid routed Rayo Vallecano 5-0 at home, breaking a rare two-game losing streak and keeping their team within three points of the pacesetters Atletico.

    La Liga top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo netted his 28th goal of the campaign and Gareth Bale struck twice in a 5-0 stroll at home to city neighbours Rayo.

    Right-back Dani Carvajal side-footed in a second from Ronaldo's lay-off before £85m summer signing Bale's contributions.

    The Welshman's first was a simple tap-in following Angel Di Maria's cross, but his second was one of real quality as he sprinted towards the Vallecano box from his own area and beat a defender before rifling home a low shot beyond Ruben.

    A fifth duly arrived when Morata found space on the edge of the area and curled a superb shot into the far corner. 

    Looking to bounce back after defeats at home to Barca in last weekend's 'Clasico' and at Sevilla on Wednesday, Real, who host Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday, have 73 points.

    Barca keep pressure

    Barcelona kept up the pressure on La Liga title rivals Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid when Lionel Messi struck from the penalty spot in a 1-0 win at Espanyol in the Catalan derby.

    The laboured victory at Espanyol's Cornella-El Prat stadium ensures that the champions are just one point behind the Spanish league leaders Atletico, following the latter's win against Bilbao later on.

    While they were far from their dynamic best against a well-drilled and fired-up Espanyol side, the victory was a positive way to prepare for Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final, first leg at home to Atletico.

    Barca and Espanyol each had chances in a frenetic opening with Messi and Neymar going close for the visitors and Pizzi wasting two excellent opportunities for the home side.

    The decisive moment of the match came when Espanyol fullback Javi Lopez handled the ball in the area and Messi dispatched the spot kick with 13 minutes remaining, the Argentina forward's 23rd La Liga goal of an injury-disrupted season.

    Espanyol goalkeeper Kiko Casilla was shown a straight red card seven minutes from time when he sprinted out of his area and handled an attempted Messi lob.

    Atletico's exhilarating comeback

    Spanish striker Diego Costa sparked Atletico Madrid's exhilarating 2-1 comeback at Athletic Bilbao.

    Under inspirational coach Diego Simeone they are mounting the first genuine challenge to the dominance of Spain's big two since Valencia won the title 10 years ago.

    They fell behind in the sixth minute at the San Mames when Bilbao's Iker Muniain raced clear and sent a brilliant lobbed effort over goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois into the net.

    Diego Costa levelled in the 22nd when Koke intercepted a stray pass in midfield and sent the Brazil-born forward clear to
    score past Gorka Iraizoz before Koke grabbed the winner 10 minutes after halftime when he nodded in a Filipe Luis centre.

    Real Madrid hosts Rayo Vallecano later trailing Atletico by six points.

    Elsewhere, fifth-placed Sevilla's five-match winning run came to an end when they lost 1-0 at Celta Vigo, leaving them six points behind Bilbao and a point ahead of Real Sociedad, who visit Osasuna on Sunday, and two in front of Villarreal who host Elche.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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