Real on top of Spanish League

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Ronaldo scored two goals and David Beckham set up two as Real Madrid beat Sevilla 5-1 to retain the top spot in the Spanish league.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:06 IST
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Ronaldo scored two goals and David Beckham set up two as Real Madrid beat Sevilla 5-1 to retain the top spot in the Spanish league with its first win in four league matches. Santiago Solari, Zinedine Zidane and Michel Salgado also scored for defending champion Madrid. Earlier, Valencia beat Racing de Santander 3-0 to put pressure on Madrid in its late match. But the nine-time European champion responded with a barrage of goals to re-claim first place with 64 points, one more than Valencia. Deportivo de La Coruna is next with 56, while FC Barcelona stays in fourth place with 55 points after its match against Real Betis was postponed due to a waterlogged field. Other results yesterday were: Celta de Vigo 0, Zaragoza 2; Villarreal 0, Atletico de Madrid 0; Valladolid 1, Osasuna 1; Murcia 2, Mallorca 0; and Malaga 1, Albacete 1. Beckham fights injury Despite a thigh injury that had earlier made his appearance doubtful, Beckham was included in the starting lineup and delivered a penetrating pass that Argentine midfielder Solari took at speed to bury into the net with a powerful, low shot in the sixth minute. In the first half Beckham continued to play zestfully, showing good touches on a slippery surface, stealing the ball in the 31st minute and very nearly chipping in. Madrid's midfield, missing the suspended right-winger Luis Figo, again benefited from Beckham's energy when in the 45th minute he hit a lofting pass from the right which Ronaldo headed into goal. A 60th-minute penalty, converted by Sevilla's Brazilian midfielder Julio Baptista, seemed to sting Madrid into greater effort. Four minutes later, French midfielder Zidane showed his touch by delicately spooning the ball into goal over the helpless Esteban Suarez. A hapless Sevilla defense could only watch as Ronaldo's ball was saved by Esteban only to be pounced upon by defender Salgado for Madrid's fourth goal in the 75th minute. Limping visibly after a tackle by midfielder Jose Luis Marti, Beckham was substituted in the 85th minute to be replaced by defender Francisco Pavon. Beckham is due to captain England in a friendly international match against Sweden in Gothenburg on Wednesday. Ronaldo rules Ronaldo culminated Madrid's coherent display of attacking soccer in injury time when he stole the ball off substitute Oscar Rodriguez and slipped it into goal. It was the Brazilian star's 24th goal in the league for Madrid, and his 31st in all competitions, four shy of his promised total for the season. The match signaled Roberto Carlos' 396th appearance in a Madrid shirt, equaling legendary forward Alfredo Di Stefano's record for foreigners at the club. Elsewhere, Vicente Rodriguez scored two goals and forced another in Valencia's win over Racing de Santander. Valencia, which won the league two years ago, played a crisp, rapid-passing game, even without talented Argentine internationals Pablo Aimar and Roberto Ayala, who were away on international duty. (AP)

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