Monday, June 24, 2024
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Real, Barca wins boost El Clasico hype

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MADRID: Real Madrid defeated Sporting Gijon 3-0 while Barcelona hammered Levante 5-0 on Saturday as Spanish football’s two superpowers warmed up for next weekend’s El Clasico by preserving their grip on the title race.

Real stretched their winning run to 14 games in all competitions and lead Barcelona by three points with the defending La Liga and European champions having played a game more.

Angel Di Maria, Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo were on target against a Sporting Gijon side who finished the game with 10 men when Sebastian Eguren was sent off late on.

Di Maria struck in the 35th minute. Ronaldo found the Argentine with a long raking pass which Di Maria controlled well before exploiting a mistake by Sporting full-back Damian Suarez to advance into the penalty area.

He then surprised goalkeeper Juan Pablo Colinas with a shot that squeezed inside the near post from a tight angle to conjure an important lead for his side out of nothing.

It was a full 30 minutes later before Madrid could relax and Di Maria was again prominent when his defence-splitting pass found Ronaldo who rounded Colinas before slotting home for his 16th league goal of the season.

Sporting then had claims for a penalty turned down after substitute Gaston Sangoy was felled in the penalty area.

Sporting’s Uruguayan midfielder Eguren received his marching orders on 79 minutes for a second yellow card and his side’s chances of getting anything from the game ended.

Brazilian full-back Marcelo increased Madrid’s lead in the last minute.

Barcelona eased past Levante to ensure they remain three points behind ahead of next Saturday’s clash at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Cesc Fabregas hit two goals for the champions with youngster Isaac Cuenca scoring his second goal for the club while Lionel Messi and Alexis Sanchez were also on target.

Barca dominated fourth-placed Levante from the start and it took only four minutes for Fabregas to break the deadlock when a clever Andres Iniesta back-flick found the ex-Arsenal captain in plenty of space to slot home with his right foot. (Agencies)

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