Madrid, Feb 19 (IANS) Real Madrid opened up a 13 point lead over FC Barcelona at the top of Spanish La Liga football thanks to a comfortable 4-0 win at home against Racing Santander.
Despite his side returning to Champions League action with a trip to CSKA Moscow Tuesday, Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho made few changes to the starting 11 which beat Levante a week ago.
Sergio Ramos moved across to the right to cover for the suspended Alvaro Arbeloa, while youngster Rafael Varane stepped into central defence.
The home side started the game Saturday strongly and Cristiano Ronaldo had already hit the post with a header before he put his side ahead after six minutes.
Kaka saw a shot blocked by Racing keeper, Tono, but had the presence of mind to head the ball across the face of goal for Ronaldo to nod home from close range.
The first 20 minutes was played virtually all in Racing’s half and Madrid looked as if they would double the lead any moment, Xinhua reports.
The game swung definitively Madrid’s way after 40 minutes, Racing defender Jonathan Cisma was sent off for a second handball. Cisma was unfortunate as it looked as if the ball had merely brushed his arm, but referee Gonzalez had no hesitation and Racing were left to play the remaining 50 minutes with a player short.
Tono made further saves to block a Marcelo volley and a Karim Benzema shot, but Madrid doubled their lead with the last kick of the half, with Ramos bundling in Benzema’s chip across the line from close range. Replays though showed Benzema should have been flagged for offside.
With a two goal advantage and against 10 men, Real Madrid conserved energy ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Moscow. The result was a dull second half until Angel Di Maria came on with just under half an hour to go.
Showing no signs of the muscle injury that had kept him out for over a month, Di Maria introduced some pace into the game and scored a fine third goal with a curling shot that Tono could only parry into the back of the net.
Benzema added a fourth in injury time as reward for his tireless work throughout the night.
Earlier in the day, Getafe and Espanyol drew 1-1 in the Alfonso Perez Coliseum.