Liga - Five-star Real thump Espanyol

Sat, 03 Mar 19:54:00 2012

Real Madrid roared to a 5-0 victory over mid-table Espanyol at the Bernabeu to restore their lead at the top of La Liga to 10 points.

Cristiano Ronaldo opens the scoring for Real Madrid against Getafe at the Bernabeu - 0

First-half goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Sami Khedira were followed up after the break by one for Kaka and a Gonzalo Higuain brace as the league leaders ran riot over the local rivals of their nearest title challengers, and the current holders, Barcelona.

Though Mauricio Pochettino's side initially resisted stubbornly, heads went down as los Galacticos pulled further and further ahead.

And but for the saves of Francisco Casilla in goal for the visitors, the margin could have been even greater than five.

An upset would have moved Espanyol up into the top six, but instead they remain in 11th in the middle of a wide-open fight for European places.

The visitors initially did a reasonable job of withstanding the attacking threat of the league leaders, snaring Higuain on more than one occasion with a tight offside trap and putting their bodies on the line to keep out any shots on goal coming their way.

They were furious at not being awarded a free kick in the 16th minute when a corner from the left was dropped by Casilla under minimal pressure from the contesting Ronaldo, allowing Higuain to hit a first-time shot, blocked by the keeper.

A poor back pass to opposite number Iker Casillas at the opposite end almost allowed Romaric in, but the Spain international was alert enough to race out of goal and punt the ball out of play before Espanyol could capitalise.

And halfway through the first period, the hosts finally found their breakthrough thanks to defensive complacency from centre-back Raul Rodriguez.

Caught in possession after dawdling at the back, his rushed pass under pressure went across to Mesut Oezil, who picked out Higuain inside the D.

The Argentine in turn slipped the ball onto the overlapping run of Ronaldo to his left for a low finish and his 30th league goal of the campaign.

The advantage was doubled with seven minutes remaining before the interval, and it came from a far less likely source of goals in Khedira.

A neat give-and-go with compatriot Oezil put him through in the box for a neat finish low into the bottom corner.

And only a fantastic stop from Casilla in added time at the end of the half to deny Higuain, who was played into point-blank range by Ronaldo’s low centre after breaking free on the left, prevented the comfortable half-time lead from becoming a chasm.

But that margin was soon extended, with the third goal coming just two minutes into the second period when Kaka was released into acres of space on the left wing with plenty of time to cut inside for Higuain to finish tidily inside the near post.

Casilla made a superb block on a clean-through Ronaldo just shy of the hour mark but on 66 minutes he was helpless to stop Kaka getting in on the act.

The Brazilian danced past two challenges in the box before slotting goal number four across the goalkeeper, and in the process extending the record wherein Real have won every league game featuring a Kaka goal to 17.

12 minutes from time, Kaka matched the skill he showed scoring his goal with more superlative dribbling on the opposite side before once again picking out Higuain, the Argentine powering the ball into the roof of the net.

Only the legs of an outrushing Casilla denied Higuain a treble, while his late replacement Alvaro Morata almost netted number six himself but for another Casilla parry to thwart the 19-year-old.

Liam Happe - on Twitter @liamhappe / Eurosport

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