Liga - Madrid move three clear after Levante win

La Liga, Santiago Bernabeu - Real Madrid 3 (Ronaldo 11, Marcelo 49, Karabelas 91 og) Levante 0

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Liga - Madrid move three clear after Levante win
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Real Madrid's Marcelo (2nd R) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal against Levante during their Spanish first division soccer match at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid March 9, 2014. (Reuters)

Real Madrid returned to the top of La Liga, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring his 38th goal of the season in a comfortable 3-0 win over 10-man Levante.

The result puts Carlo Ancelotti’s side three points ahead of Atletico Madrid and four ahead of Barcelona, who suffered a shock defeat at Real Valladolid on Saturday.

Real Madrid took just 11 minutes to open the scoring, with Ronaldo rising much higher than anyone else in the penalty area to head home Angel Di Maria’s corner kick delivery.

Keylor Navas was keeping his side in the contest, pulling off a number of saves to keep the score at 1-0, smothering a shot from Karim Benzema and tipping a header from the French striker on to the post just before half-time.

However, Los Blancos doubled their lead four minutes into the second half, with Marcelo guiding a right-footed shot into the net from just inside the box following good exchange play with Ronaldo.

Levante were reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of David Navarro for a late challenge on Ronaldo, and the away side shot themselves in the foot again when Nikos Karampelas turned the ball into his own net to seal a 3-0 win for Real Madrid.

KEY MOMENTS

11’ - GOAL: Ronaldo scores the opener for Real Madrid, rising so much higher than anyone else to head home Di Maria's corner kick. That's his 38th goal of the season.

13’ - OOPS: Benzema's blushes are spared by the linesman! Bale picks out the French striker with a wonderful scooped pass over the top but Benzema smashes his volley well over the bar. But the flag is up for offside.

49’ - GOAL: Wonderful goal by Marcelo! Ronaldo plays though the left-back, who throws in a stepover to fool the defender and guides a right footed shot into the net.

57’ - SAVE: Another good save from Navas! Benzema curls a shot from the edge of the box, looking for the top corner, but the Levante keeper pulls another good stop to keep the French striker at bay.

64’ - RED CARD: Levante are reduced to 10 men! It was stupid tackle by Navarro, who came through the back of Ronaldo. He had no chance of winning the ball and halved the Real Madrid winger. He can't have many complaints about that decision.

73’ - CROSSBAR: Benzema hits the bar! Di Maria plays a short corner to Carvajal, who drives a cross to the back post where three Real Madrid players are waiting unmarked. However, the French striker guides his header on to the bar.

81’ - GOAL: Oh dear. Nikos turns the ball into his own net after a cross to the back post by Marcelo. He had time to deal with it as well!

89’ - WOODWORK: How did that not go in? Marcelo teases a great cross to the back post where Ronaldo is lurking. He looks set to find the net but somehow plants his header on to the bar, with the ball bouncing down on to the line and away.

90’ - INJURY: Carvajal is being brought off on a stretcher here following a tackle by Juanfran. Ancelotti has made all his changes so Real Madrid will end the game with 10 men. Let's hope the Real Madrid right back is okay.

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KEY STATS

Angel Di Maria has made more La Liga assists than any other Real Madrid player this season.

Real Madrid are now 29 games unbeaten in all competitions and have won 15 out of 17 games in 2014.

Real Madrid are the only team capable of reaching 100 points in La Liga this season.

TALKING POINT

Should Ancelotti be worried by Benzema’s performance? The French striker has been in good form this season, scoring 19 goals for Real Madrid. However, at times Benzema can be wasteful in front of goal and he passed up several clear-cut opportunities against Levante. Should Ancelotti be worried?

MAN OF THE MATCH

Keylor Navas (Levante): It’s somewhat peculiar to award Man of the Match to a goalkeeper who conceded three in a heavy defeat, but the Levante number one kept the score respectable for his team. He pulled off a number of good saves, keeping Benzema at bay on more than one occasion. It’s easy to see why Levante are trying to tie Navas down with a new contract.

PLAYER RATINGS

Real Madrid: Lopez 5, Carvajal 6, Varane 5, Ramos 4, Marcelo 8, Alonso 6, Modric 6, Di Maria 7, Bale 6, Ronaldo 7, Benzema 5. Subs: Nacho 5, Isco 5.

Levante: Navas 9, Vyntra 4, Navarro 4, Juanfran 7, Nikos 5, Sissoko 4, Pallardo 5, Pinto 5, Lopez 4, Ivanschitz 4, Barral 4. Subs: El Adoua 5, Nagore 5.

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