Ronaldo strikes twice to stretch Madrid's lead as Valencia fall to Barca

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The Independent Football

Real Madrid stretched their lead at the top of the Spanish league to five points on Saturday with a comfortable 4-2 victory over struggling Espanyol.

Ronaldo scored twice for Real to take his tally to 21 goals for the season and Roberto Carlos and Raul Bravo were also on the scoresheet for the champions.

Madrid hold a five-point lead at the top of the table after their impressive victory was followed by a 1-0 defeat for their main title rivals, Valencia, at home to Barcelona.

After 25 games Real lead the table with 56 points, followed by Valencia on 51 and Deportivo la Coruña on 50 after they drew 0-0 at Atletico Madrid on Saturday. Barça's victory kept them in fourth place on 43 points.

Villarreal lost further ground in the race for European places when they were beaten 4-1 at the relegation candidates Real Zaragoza yesterday.

Zaragoza were 2-0 up inside 20 minutes with goals from Leonardo Ponzio and Ruben Cani, and Villarreal's fate was sealed when Quique Alvarez was sent off after 24 minutes. Dani scored the third six minutes before half-time, and even though Zaragoza were also reduced to 10 men with the sending-off of Carlos Quartero on 63 minutes, the home side finished comfortable winners.