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MADRID: Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo both scored twice as Real Madrid cruised to a 5-0 victory at Mallorca on Sunday night to keep up the pressure at the top of La Liga.
Jose Callejon got the fifth as Real remained in fourth position, a point behind Malaga in third, and eight behind leaders Barcelona, who crushed Rayo Vallecano 5-0 on Saturday, and second-placed Atletico Madrid.
Ronaldo has now scored in eight consecutive games for Madrid -- 14 goals in total and 11 in the league.
Meanwhile, Radamel Falcao scored to make it 10 in the league for him, as Atletico Madrid beat Osasuna 3-1 to stay level on points with Barca.
“Last season we were 10 points clear with fewer games to play and we said the league was still open, so we have to think the same and keep on picking up points,” said Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho.
Mourinho returned Higuain to the starting line-up after favouring Karim Benzema in Wednesday’s 2-1 Champions League defeat at Borussia Dortmund.
The Argentinian striker did not take long to repay that faith when he pounced on a defensive error by Mallorca’s Anderson Conceicao to hit the opener after only seven minutes.
Luka Modric also returned to the starting eleven, replacing the injured Sami Khedira, and he was involved in much of Madrid’s better play. Mallorca’s best chance of the first period fell to Emilio N’Sue who almost surprised Iker Casillas from long range before Ronaldo doubled the lead on 21 minutes.
The Portuguese star was on hand to finish a sweeping move that saw the ball switch from left to right, from Mesut Ozil to Angel Di Maria, passing through Higuain before Ronaldo finished calmly.
Madrid continued to control proceedings in the second period restricting the home team’s attacking options with clever possession play.
As Mallorca grew more frustrated space began to appear and Ronaldo took advantage to carve open the home defence and gift Higuain his second of the evening and sixth league goal of the season on 69 minutes.
Three minutes later Higuain was the provider for Ronaldo, when both needed only one touch to turn a counter-attack into Madrid’s fourth. Substitute Callejon added the final goal from close range in the last minute.
Atletico responded well to Barca piling on the pressure at the top with a 5-0 romp at Rayo Vallecano twenty-four hours earlier. They were always the better side in the Vicente Calderon, recording a 12th consecutive victory in all competitions.
Joao Miranda, with a glancing header, and a Raul Garcia strike gave Atletico a two-goal advantage after 35 minutes before Roland Lamah pulled one back for Osasuna, who stay bottom of the table, just before half-time.
Falcao finished off any threat Osasuna posed on 73 minutes when he turned in a Juanfran cross for an incredible 17 goals in 11 consecutive games in all competitions. AFP