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Five-star Madrid put five past Levante

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Updated 06 Apr 2013 18:17:01

Five-star Madrid put five past Levante

Gonzalo Higuain scored a goal of the season contender as Real Madrid kept up their pursuit of Barcelona with a 5-1 win over Levante at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The visitors had taken a shock lead through Michel just after the half-hour mark, but their lead only lasted five minutes as Higuain swivelled brilliantly to volley in Xabi Alonso's cross.

Kaka then put the hosts ahead before the break from the penalty spot and Cristiano Ronaldo made the game safe with his 29th league goal of the season six minutes from time.

Substitute Mesut Ozil twice scored from close range in the dying moments as Madrid cut the gap on Barca to 10 points ahead of the Catalans meeting with Mallorca later on Saturday night.

Jose Mourinho had kept his pre-match promise by making seven changes to the side that beat Galatasaray 3-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday with Tuesday's return-leg in mind.

Sergio Ramos and Alonso were included as they will be suspended for the trip to Istanbul, whilst Iker Casillas returned to the squad for the first time in three months but only made the bench with Diego Lopez continuing in goal.

For only the second time this season, Higuain and Karim Benzema started a league match together and, despite playing in a deeper role, it was the Argentine who was creating much more of a threat.

A driven cross from Jose Maria Callejon just evaded Higuain before he and Benzema saw efforts from outside the area drift off target.

Kaka then forced Gustavo Munua into his first serious save with a rising drive after a trademark burst into the box.

However, Madrid were stunned on 31 minutes when Levante broke with the sort of efficiency that they normally punish teams.

Michel fed Pedro Rios down the right and when he cleverly cut the ball back, Michel took a touch before seeing his shot deflect beyond Lopez.

The goal seemed to awake Madrid and they were level five minutes later thanks to a stunning strike from Higuain.

Alonso's measured cross found the former River Plate man free in the area, but he had to show great technique to hook the ball on the volley into Munua's top right-hand corner.

Moments later the comeback was complete as Cristian Lell was somewhat harshly penalised for handball as the ball ricocheted around the Levante area and Kaka stepped up to score his first league goal at the Bernabeu in over a year.

Ronaldo was introduced at half-time for Callejon and was quickly in the heart of the action as Real tried to kill the game off.

Benzema had a low header well held by Munua, whilst the keeper also parried a snap shot from Ronaldo and Kaka curled an effort just over.

Yet, Levante came within inches of an equaliser just before the hour mark as Roberto Aquafresca's volley from Ruben Garcia's cross whistled just past the post.

Munua then made a string of fine saves from Pepe, Higuain Ronaldo and Ozil to keep his side in the game.

But Ronaldo eventually sealed the three points when he volleyed home from Higuain's and the Portuguese then teed up Ozil to slide into an empty net two minutes later.

And some fine wing-play from Angel di Maria then laid another goal on a plate for Ozil in stoppage time as Madrid rounded off a highly satisfactory week in style.


AFP

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