Ronaldo sets best scoring start in Spanish league
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo netted his 14th and 15th goals to set a record scoring start in a Spanish league season as Real Madrid eased to a 5-0 win at Levante on Saturday, while Lionel Messi scored to move one goal from the competition’s all-time scorer.
Messi guided league leader Barcelona to a 3-0 win at home over promoted Eibar, setting up Xavi Hernandez to break through in the second half and scoring after Neymar had doubled the lead.
Messi is now poised to equal Telmo Zarra’s milestone of 251 goals that has stood since 1955 next week at rival Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium
Ronaldo opened from the penalty spot in the 13th minute before adding another goal in the 61st, increasing his league-leading tally to 15 goals in eight rounds despite missing one game due to injury.
The Portugal forward has scored more than twice as many goals as Neymar, who is second in the leading scorers list.
The previous best start was established by Oviedo’s Esteban Echevarria with 14 goals through eight rounds to start the 1943-44 season.
“It is impossible to do more than what (Ronaldo) does,” said Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti. “There are no goals without sacrifice, a fighting spirit and concentration.”
Javier Hernandez, James Rodriguez and Francisco “Isco” Alarcon also scored to rout the overmatched hosts at Ciutat de Valencia Stadium.
Ancelotti said that Gareth Bale didn’t play because of pain in his gluteus. The manager rested him as a precaution with Madrid visiting Liverpool in the Champions League on Wednesday before the first “clasico” match of the season against Barcelona three days later.
Also, Manuel “Nolito” Agudo continued his strong season by scoring in the 73rd to give Celta Vigo a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao, keeping the Basque club with one win in 10 matches in all competitions not counting its elimination of Napoli from the Champions League playoffs.
Ronaldo has scored 19 goals in all competitions and found the net in 10 of his 12 appearances overall for Madrid. He also grabbed a stoppage-time winner for Portugal in a 1-0 victory over Denmark in a European Championship qualifier on Tuesday.
Hernandez had a part in Ronaldo’s first goal when he took a pass in the area and was fouled from behind by Juanfran Garcia. Ronaldo stepped up and drove in the spot kick.
Hernandez played well in place of the ill Karim Benzema and scored in the 38th when he headed Rodriguez’s cross in off the grass.
Ronaldo made it 3-0 with an electrifying slalom to dribble past two defenders and cap a counterattack started by Isco.
Rodriguez scored five minutes later after deftly controlling Toni Kroos’ lobbed pass with his chest before firing the ball home, and Isco finished off the demoralized Levante in the 82nd.
Luca Modric quietly had his best outing for Madrid this season, despite missing a clear chance to get a goal of his own. Modric set up Ronaldo twice in the opening minutes only for him to misfire, and the Croatia midfielder stifled Levante’s best chance in the 26th when he cleared Victor Camarasa’s goal-bound volley from the line.
But Modric was substituted in the 79th for a possible leg injury, giving Alvaro Medran his debut.