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MADRID: Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema took Real Betis apart to give Real Madrid a resounding 5-0 win on Saturday that put them level on 50 points with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga.
Madrid’s dynamic performance at the bottom club laid down a marker ahead of Barca and Atletico’s games on Sunday against Levante and Sevilla respectively and proved Carlo Ancelotti’s side are in fine fettle going into the second half of the season.
Known collectively in Spain as ‘BBC’, Bale, Benzema and Cristiano cost the world’s richest club by income in excess of 200 million euros (Rs 1,665 crore), more than three times the value of the Betis squad, and they showed their quality at Betis.
Croatia international Luka Modric also played a starring role alongside the imperious Xabi Alonso in midfield as Madrid ruthlessly dominated from start to finish in Seville.
Ronaldo, who also netted in the 2-0 King’s Cup win at Osasuna on Wednesday, celebrated Monday’s FIFA Ballon d’Or award for the world’s best player with a stunner to open the scoring in the 10th minute.
The Portugal forward picked up a pass from Angel Di Maria on the left, cut inside and unleashed a blast from distance that rocketed past Betis goalkeeper Stephan Andersen into the top corner for his 21st league goal of the campaign.
The hapless Andersen was again left rooted to the spot when Bale’s delicate free kick nestled in the back of the net in the 25th minute.
The Betis supporters were furious with the Danish keeper, whistling him the next few times he touched the ball, and also began singing the name of former coach Pepe Mel who was sacked last month and replaced by Juan Carlos Garrido.
Betis’s woes deepened when Modric fed Benzema in the area and he fired inside the post moments before halftime.
Andersen went some way to redeeming himself when he produced a fine save to deny Ronaldo seven minutes after halftime but Di Maria made it 4-0 when he cracked a low, long-range drive into the bottom corner on 62 minutes.
Substitute Alvaro Morata clipped the ball in from close quarters in the 90th minute to complete the carnage. (Reuters)