Real punish Barca defeat by storming clear

Sun Mar 9, 2014 6:34pm EDT
 
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By Iain Rogers

MADRID (Reuters) - Real Madrid took full advantage of Barcelona's shock defeat at Real Valladolid with a 3-0 home win over 10-man Levante on Sunday that put Carlo Ancelotti's in-form side three points clear at the top of La Liga.

Cristiano Ronaldo, the leading scorer in Spain this season, took his tally to 24 league goals when he headed the opener from Angel Di Maria's corner in the 11th minute and Marcelo added a second from Ronaldo's assist four minutes after the break.

David Navarro was harshly shown a straight red card in the 64th minute for an innocuous-looking tackle on Ronaldo and fellow Levante defender Nikos Karampelas put the ball into his own net nine minutes from time.

Ronaldo, who became Portugal's leading scorer with a double against Cameroon in Wednesday's 5-1 friendly victory, came close to a second in the 90th minute when he headed against the underside of the crossbar and Gareth Bale whistled a low shot just past the post in added time.

"I don't think it was a perfect game but we were close," Marcelo told Canal Plus television.

"We were a bit weaker in the first half than the second but the important thing was that we didn't concede any goals and in that respect we have improved a lot," added the Brazil international.

"We couldn't afford to stumble today and of course it's better when the others lose but we are focusing on ourselves."

Real, unbeaten in 29 matches in all competitions, have 67 points with 11 matches left and Atletico Madrid are three behind in second position after winning 2-0 at Celta Vigo on Saturday.   Continued...

 
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring a goal against Levante during their Spanish first division soccer match at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid March 9, 2014. REUTERS/Sergio Perez