Real Madrid beats Espanyol 4-2

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Real Madrid cruised to a 4-2 win over Espanyol, reinforcing its grip on the top spot in the Spanish league.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:05 IST
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Brazilian ace Ronaldo scored twice as Real Madrid cruised to a 4-2 win over lowly Espanyol, reinforcing its grip on the top spot in the Spanish league. In another match yesterday, substitute Gerard Lopez's goal gave FC Barcelona a 1-0 win over second-place Valencia to dent its challenge for first place. Elsewhere, third-place Deportivo de La Coruna drew 0-0 with Atletico de Madrid, Celta de Vigo lost 2-0 to Malaga, and Sevilla downed Real Sociedad 1-0. Madrid now leads the standings with 56 points, five more than Valencia. Deportivo has 50 points, seven more than FC Barcelona. Athletic de Bilbao is fifth with 37. Despite the absence of its favoured midfield pairing of David Beckham and Jose Maria "Guti" Gutierrez, Madrid sent out a clear signal of its ability to Champions League rival Bayern Munich, which it meets Tuesday in Germany. With Madrid's Portuguese star Luis Figo left on the bench, the spotlight was on French midfield star, Zinedine Zidane, who extended his contract to 2007 on Thursday and put on another eye-catching display. But it was another of Madrid's stars, Ronaldo, who opened the scoring with a 26th-minute penalty shot after captain Raul Gonzalez was hauled down by Espanyol's teenage defender, Carlos Garcia. Six minutes later, Spanish international Raul Tamudo equalised with another penalty after midfielder Ivan De la Pena was felled by Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas. (AP)

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