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Madrid crushes Xerez 5-0 in Spain

CRISTIANO Ronaldo scored twice as Real Madrid trounced promoted Xerez 5-0 yesterday to continue the big-spending club's perfect start to the Spanish league season.

Madrid's last four goals at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium arrived in a late 13-minute spell, with substitute Jose Maria "Guti" Gutierrez, Karim Benzema and Ruud van Nistelrooy also hitting the target.

Benzema's goal was his first in the league since his offseason move from Lyon, while Van Nistelrooy was returning as a substitute after missing most of last season with a knee injury.

However, Van Nistelrooy injured himself in scoring and may have torn a thigh muscle, Madrid said. The Dutch striker was to undergo tests today.

In a late game, Valencia lost its perfect record this season when it was held 2-2 by a 10-man Sporting Gijon.

Earlier, Fernando Llorente scored twice to help Athletic Bilbao beat Villarreal 3-2 and also maintain its winning start.

After three games, Madrid has nine points and leads the league on goal difference from Barcelona and Bilbao. Mallorca and Valencia follow with seven points, one more than Sevilla.

Other results were: Zaragoza 1, Valladolid 2; and Almeria 1, Getafe 0.

On Saturday, Barcelona continued its perfect start to the defense of its league title by beating Atletico Madrid 5-2.

Also Saturday, Mallorca thumped Tenerife 4-0, Sevilla won 2-0 at Osasuna, Racing Santander beat Malaga 2-1 away, while Espanyol won 3-2 at Deportivo La Coruna.

The first ever league encounter between Madrid and Xerez appeared a mismatch if the teams' annual budgets were taken into account. Madrid's is €422 million ($621 million), while Xerez's is €9 million (€13 million).

A rout looked likely when Madrid took less than a minute to open the scoring. Ronaldo collected the ball in a central position before drifting wide and finding the back of the net with an angled shot.

However, Xerez recovered its poise and almost scored when veteran midfielder Emilio Viqueira hit the bar from a free kick.

Madrid coach replaced Kaka, who was short of his best form, with Guti in the 69th minute and Xerez finally caved in soon afterward.

Ronaldo, who also scored twice in Madrid's 5-2 win at Zurich in the Champions League on Tuesday, doubled his tally from Esteban Granero's corner in the 75th minute.

The Portugal forward has scored four league goals for Madrid since his world record move from Manchester United in the offseason.

Guti struck the third goal in the 78th minute, with Benzema scoring his first league goal for Madrid three minutes later from Van Nistelrooy's pass.

Van Nistelrooy completed Madrid's victory in the 88th, shooting through the legs of Xerez goalkeeper Renan Brito for his first league goal since last October.

Madrid captain Raul Gonzalez was making his 523rd league appearance for the club, equalling the record set by defender Manuel Sanchis in the 1980s and 90s.

Valencia trailed from the sixth minute at its Mestalla Stadium after Sporting striker David Barral cut in from the left and fired low past goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya.

In the 24th minute, David Villa equalized against the team where he began his career after Sporting goalkeeper Juan Pablo Colinas had parried David Silva's shot.

Sporting's situation worsened two minutes later when captain Michel Marcos was dismissed after receiving a second yellow card.

Villa deftly curled a shot past Juan Pablo to give Valencia the lead on the hour, only for Sporting to reap the reward for a resolute display when defender Gregory Arnolin headed home in the 86th minute.

Javi Martinez netted the winner at Bilbao's San Mames Stadium as the Basque team made it nine points out of nine for the first time since the 1988-89 season, when it eventually finished seventh.

Villarreal's defeat left it winless so far, a poor beginning for coach Ernesto Valverde, who took charge in the offseason after Manuel Pellegrini joined Real Madrid.

Bilbao, which also defeated Austria Vienna 3-0 in the Europa League on Thursday, could have scored more goals but ended nervously after Santi Cazorla had fired Villarreal's second goal from a free kick in the 85th minute.

Striker Llorente opened the scoring in the 11th minute with a header from David Lopez's cross from the right in a swift counterattack by the home team.

Llorente then showed impressive skill to double his tally in the 40th, chesting the ball down before firing a low shot past goalkeeper Diego Lopez.

Villarreal midfielder Ruben "Cani" Gracia reduced the deficit by firing home from Joseba Llorente's headed pass in the 48th, the first goal Bilbao had conceded this season.

Midfielder Martinez nodded Bilbao's third goal from Igor Gabilondo's corner 11 minutes later.

Sisi Gonzalez's 56th-minute winner brought Valladolid its first victory of the season at promoted Zaragoza.

Marquitos Garcia opened the scoring for Valladolid in the third minute, with Jorge Lopez equalizing for the home team 24 minutes later.

Almeria also recorded its first win - and goal - by beating Getafe courtesy of defender Michel Macedo's 47th-minute strike.


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