Barcelona: Cristiano Ronaldo scored in his sixth straight game to help Real Madrid win 2-0 at Villarreal in the Spanish league on Saturday.
Villarreal attacked well early on at El Madrigal Stadium, as an airplane circled overhead trailing a banner asking Ronaldo to return to former club Manchester United. But Luka Modric struck from long range in the 32nd minute, and Karim Benzema set up Ronaldo for his league-leading 10th goal in the 40th.
Madrid's third straight league win provisionally lifted it into fourth place.
Madrid have outscored their opponents 20-4 in their last four games in all competitions, with Ronaldo scoring nine times in that span.
"The best thing is that we won a difficult game against a team that played well," Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said. "The key was the second goal and Karim played an important role, passing the ball to Cristiano. He deserves credit, even if he didn't score. Sometimes it is better to pass than to score."
Villarreal did everything right in attack until they came to the hardest part of putting the ball past goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
In between several misfired shots, Mario Perez tested Casillas with a low strike on the half hour mark before Modric caught goalie Sergio Asenjo flat-footed by quickly taking a shot from outside the area.
Benzema sprinted half the pitch to run down James Rodriguez's pass, hold off a marker, and square the ball for Ronaldo to slot home. Having spent its energies in the first half, Villarreal never threatened to come back after halftime.