MADRID (AFP) – Real Madrid beat Osasuna 7-1 with a hat-trick from Cristiano Ronaldo and goals from Gonzalo Higuain, Pepe and a brace from substitute Karim Benzema on Sunday.

The result puts Madrid four points ahead of Barcelona at the top of La Liga ahead of the Catalan club’s match on Sunday evening against Athletic Bilbao.

Osasuna, who equalised the game at 1-1 with a goal by Ibrahima Balde, had Eneko Satrustegui sent-off with following yellow cards in the 54th minute with the score already at 5-1.

For coach Jose Mourinho the victory, Madrid’s tenth in succession, is the fruit of hard work.

“We have deserved these 10 victories. We have not got them through luck, we have have had to suffer for them like in Anoeta (Real Sociedad’s stadium), but we’ve played either good or very good in all of them,” he said.

Osasuna coach Jose Luis Mendilibar was honest in his assessment of the game.

“We have to forget this as quick as possible but it will be difficult because we have two weeks without football, but this is a reality, the difference between Barca, Madrid and the rest of us is that big,” he said.

Osasuna arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu with nine players out injured but unbeaten in three games and in high spirits after beating Levante 2-0 last weekend to knock them of the top of the league.

The heavy defeat today will bring back fresh memories of the 8-0 defeat they received from Barcelona in mid-September.

For Madrid it was their first ever home match at midday, a result of new kick-off times this season in the Spanish league dictated by TV.

Ronaldo’s hat-trick puts him level with Lionel Messi on 13 league goals and just before kick-off he offered up the European Golden Boot he has recently won to all Madrid fans in homage of his goalscoring exploits last season.

For twenty minutes it looked as if an organised Osasuna team may cause the leaders some problems but on 22 minutes Ronaldo was alert to head home a perfectly floated cross from Angel di Maria to open the floodgates.

Osasuna took a quick free-kick to put Ibrahima through for his equaliser on 30 minutes before the game became one-way traffic.

Pepe got a glancing header on 33 minutes from another cross from Di Maria to put Madrid ahead and Higuain made it a two-goal cushion with a curling right-foot shot before the interval.

In a second half dominated by the home team Turkish international Nuri Sahin finally made his first appearance since signing for Real Madrid from Borussia Dortmund in the summer after ligament trouble had delayed his debut.

Ronaldo hit a penalty after Satrustegui’s sending-off on 54 minutes and completed his hat-trick three minutes later with a second header.

Madrid had already introduced Benzema by this stage and ther Frenchman showed no mercy as he grabbed his two goals to add to Osasuna’s misery.

On Saturday, Valencia beat city rivals Levante 2-0 away from home to go joint-second with Barcelona on 24 points.

A Javi Venta own-goal and a Tino Costa free-kick were enough for Valencia to edge a typically bruising derby match.

The opening goal came on 35 minutes when Costa played in Jordi Alba with a majestic threaded pass, Levante full-back Venta was quick to react but unlucky when all he could do to avoid a clear scoring opportunity was steer the ball into his own net.

Costa then doubled the away team’s lead with a floating free-kick from distance on 50 minutes that deceived Gustavo Munua in the Levante goal.

In other games on Saturday Real Betis ended a run of six consecutive defeats on Saturday holding Malaga 0-0 in an entertaining Andalusian derby as Sevilla were also held to a goalless draw at Real Mallorca.

The results leaves Sevilla fifth, a point ahead of Malaga, while Mallorca struggle two points above the relegation zone.


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