Real rise to top in style

Madrid side shares lead with Barca

Real rise to top in style

Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema took a feeble Real Betis apart to fire Real Madrid to a thumping 5-0 win that put them level with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga on Saturday.

Madrid's dynamic performance against the bottom club laid down a marker ahead of Barca and Atletico's games on Sunday at Levante and at home to Sevilla respectively and suggested Carlo Ancelotti's side are in fine fettle going into the second half of the season.

The three top sides all have 50 points, with fourth-placed Athletic Bilbao, who host struggling Real Valladolid on Monday, trailing on 36.

"This was a good chance to be top for one night at least," Ancelotti told a news conference. "At least tonight we will sleep well," added the Italian, in his first campaign in charge after taking over from Jose Mourinho in the close season.

Known collectively in Spain as 'BBC', Bale, Benzema and Cristiano cost Real, the world's richest club by income, in excess of 200 million euros ($271 million), more than three times the value of the entire Betis squad.

As well as the prolific trio, Croatia international Luka Modric played a starring role at the Benito Villamarin in Seville alongside the imperious Xabi Alonso in midfield as Madrid ruthlessly dominated from start to finish.

Ronaldo, who also netted in the 2-0 King's Cup win at Osasuna on Wednesday, celebrated Monday's FIFA Ballon d'Or award for the world's best player with a stunner to open the scoring in the 10th minute.

The Portugal forward picked up a pass from Angel Di Maria on the left, cut inside and unleashed a blast from distance that rocketed past Betis goalkeeper Stephan Andersen into the top corner for his 21st league goal of the campaign.

The hapless Andersen was again left rooted to the spot when Bale's delicate free kick nestled in the back of the net in the 25th minute.

The Betis supporters were furious with the Danish ’keeper, whistling him the next few times he touched the ball, and also began singing the name of former coach Pepe Mel who was sacked last month and replaced by Juan Carlos Garrido.

Chants of 'Garrido go already' also rang round the stadium and Betis woes deepened when Modric fed Benzema in the area and he fired inside the post moments before halftime.

In the late game, former Spain forward Sergio Garcia scored a late winner to give Espanyol a 1-0 win at home to Celta Vigo that lifted Barcelona's second club to eighth.

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