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La Liga: Dominant Real Madrid thrash Girona 4-0

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MADRID, March 11: Real Madrid made peace with its fans with a comfortable win over Celta Vigo and reclaimed a seven-point lead at the top of the Spanish league.
Vinícius Júnior scored his third goal in four games on Sunday as Madrid eased to a 4-0 victory that followed consecutive draws that included a lackluster performance against Leipzig in the Champions League, which prompted jeers from the home crowd at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
“We improved in attitude and intensity. It wasn’t too hard to do better than we did on Wednesday,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said.
“We’re happy, focused and motivated because it’s an important stage of the season. At Real Madrid, a draw is the first step toward a crisis.” Madrid had drawn four of its last seven matches in all competitions. It advanced to the quarterfinals of the Champions League on Wednesday despite a poor performance in a 1-1 draw against Leipzig.
Defender Antonio Rüdiger set up two goals on Sunday, and Turkey international Arda Güler made his scoring debut with Madrid. The hosts got two own-goals.
The victory maintained Madrid’s cushion at the top after second-place Girona beat Osasuna 2-0 on Saturday and third-place Barcelona defeated Mallorca 1-0 on Friday. Barcelona, the defending champion, is eight points behind Madrid with 10 rounds left.
Madrid is unbeaten at the Bernabeu in 18 matches this season, with 15 wins and three draws. Its last home loss was in April 2023 against Villarreal. It is unbeaten in the league in 22 straight matches, since a 3-1 loss at Atletico Madrid.
Celta had only one attempt on target in what was its eighth straight loss to Madrid. Rafa Benítez’s team sits just outside the relegation zone, two points from danger.
Vinícius opened the scoring from close range after a firm header by Rüdiger in the 21st. Madrid added to the lead with own-goals by goalkeeper Vicente Guaita in the 79th and defender Carlos Domínguez in the 88th. Guaita’s own-goal came after a firm header by Rüdiger bounced off the crossbar and the goalkeeper’s back.
The 19-year-old midfielder Güler, who replaced Vinícius in the 89th, scored his first goal for Madrid four minutes into stoppage time.
Vinícius again had a run-in with an opponent, shoving Óscar Mingueza to the ground after the Celta defender held the Brazil forward’s jersey to stop a breakaway. Ancelotti had defended Vinícius during the week, saying he is “poorly treated.” Luka Modric, who has not played often as a starter this season, made his 350th appearance for Madrid.
The hosts were without England midfielder Jude Bellingham, who was serving the first of a two-game suspension.
BETIS LOSES
Real Betis missed a chance to move into the European qualification places after losing 3-2 to Villarreal at home.
Sitting in seventh place, Betis has won only one of its last six matches in all competitions.
Villarreal moved to 11th place.Both teams played with 10 men after a red card was shown to Villarreal’s Alberto Moreno and Betis’ Chimy Ávila in the 70th.
ATHLETIC MOVES UP
Athletic Bilbao moved closer to the Champions League places with a 2-0 win at Las Palmas.
The victory moved the Basque Country club within two points of fourth-place Atletico Madrid, which lost 2-0 at Cadiz on Saturday.
It was Athletic’s first league win following a draw against Barcelona and a loss at Real Betis.
RAYO STRUGGLING
Rayo Vallecano’s winless streak reached 10 matches in all competitions after a 1-0 loss at Alaves.
The setback left Rayo in 16th place, four points from the relegation zone.
Andoni Gorosabel scored a first-half winner for Alaves, which hadn’t won in five consecutive league games. (PTI)

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