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Huntelaar brace as Real rebounds to drub Bilbao

KLAAS Jan Huntelaar struck twice to help Real Madrid register a 5-2 win at 10-man Athletic Bilbao on Saturday and cut Barcelona's lead at the top of the Spanish Primera Liga to three points.

Real moves on to 60 points with 11 matches remaining while Barcelona has 63 ahead of its game at Almeria last night.

Arjen Robben's powerful strike and a Gabriel Heinze header gave the champion a 2-0 lead after 34 minutes before Heinze put the ball into his own net and Fernando Llorente nodded past Iker Casillas to make it 2-2 at the break.

Bilbao's Fran Yeste was shown a straight red for shoving Casillas to the ground in the aftermath of Heinze's own-goal.

Dutch international Huntelaar then squeezed a shot in at Gorka Iraizoz's near post early in the second half to make it 3-2 before racing on to Robben's pass and lifting the ball over the Bilbao keeper with just under half an hour left.

Gonzalo Higuain wrapped up the win from the penalty spot after Andoni Iraola hacked down Marcelo.

Real's victory, its 11th in 12 league matches, was a boost after last Tuesday's 0-4 Champions League drubbing at Liverpool. "The positive thing is that we came to a tricky ground and won and we are still in with a chance," Casillas said.

It was a typically bruising clash at San Mames, with Bilbao picking up seven yellow cards and Real four.

Substitute Ion Velez and a Bilbao official were dismissed from the bench in the second half for protesting.

Earlier, Valencia's hopes of a place in European competition next season were dealt a further blow when it was held to a 1-1 home draw by Recreativo Huelva.

Winger Pablo Hernandez saved Valencia from a third successive Primera Liga defeat with an exquisite chip in the 83rd after Javier Camunas had given the visitors the lead 10 minutes into the second half.

The home team finished with 10 men after captain Carlos Marchena was sent off for a second yellow card in the 74th. Unai Emery's Valencia has not won a match since the beginning of February, falling to eighth.


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