Real Madrid scores seven to Osasuna for tenth Liga win in a row

Real Madrid scores seven to Osasuna for tenth Liga win in a row

MADRID - The Associated Press
Real Madrid scores seven to Osasuna for tenth Liga win in a row

Real Madrid’s Benzema (R) celebrates a goal with teammate Alvaro Arbeloa.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick and winger Angel Di Maria set up three goals to steer Spanish leader Real Madrid to a 7-1 win over 10-man Osasuna yesterday.

Madrid’s seventh consecutive league win lifted it four points ahead of Valencia and defending champion Barcelona, which visits Athletic Bilbao later.

Di Maria set up goals by Ronaldo, Pepe and fellow Argentina international Gonzalo Higuain to increase his league-leading assist total to 10 before halftime.

Osasuna played with 10 men from early in the second half and Ronaldo scored two more to record his fourth three-goal game in the league this season before substitute Karim Benzema capped the rout with a late brace.

“My goals are not important, what counts is that the team wins,” Ronaldo said. “I am happy to have scored but also because the team is playing well.” Ronaldo’s attacking performance took him level with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi for the league’s leading scorer with 13 goals each.

Osasuna, which was missing nine first team players from injuries and suspensions, had already lost 8-0 at Barcelona earlier this season.

Before the game, Ronaldo paraded his Golden Boot trophy for Europe’s top scorer last season to the 83,000-seat Santiago Bernabeu stadium, which was full despite the rare midday start time.

Di Maria set up Madrid’s 23rd-minute opener when he picked out Ronaldo at the near post with a cross for the Portugal forward to flick into the net.

Osasuna midfielder Raul Garcia caught Madrid’s defenders arguing with the referee when he took a free kick quickly and Ibrahima Balde slotted the ball under goalkeeper Iker Casillas to level the score in the 30th.

But any thoughts of an upset quickly evaporated as four minutes later Di Maria sent in another cross for Pepe to head home at the far post.

The 23-year-old Di Maria then completed his playmaking display in the 40th when he slid the ball into the area for Higuain to curl into the right side of the net.

Di Maria was taken off on a stretcher for an apparent leg injury early in the second half, but Madrid continued to roll when Ronaldo fired in a penalty in the 54th after defender Eneko Sartustegi was sent off with his second booking for fouling Mesut Oezil in the area.

“The first half was tough for us playing against a well organized team, but after they equalized we had a little luck to go back ahead,” Madrid coach Jose Mourinho said. “Then in the second half it is difficult for any team to play with 10 men.” Ronaldo headed in a cross from Alvaro Arbeloa in the 58th before Benzema, who replaced Di Maria, scored from inside the area in the 63rd and 81st.

Turkey midfielder Nuri Sahin debuted for Madrid as a substitute after having recovered from a nagging leg injury sustained in the preseason.