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Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring one off his two goals against Levant during their Spanish league football match in Valencia on Saturday. AFP

Ronaldo’s hot form continues

BARCELONA: Cristiano Ronaldo netted his 14th and 15th goals on Saturday to set a record scoring start in a Spanish league season as Real Madrid eased to a 5-0 win at Levante.
Ronaldo opened from the penalty spot in the 13th minute before adding another goal in the 61st, increasing his league-leading tally to 15 goals in eight rounds despite missing one game due to injury. The Portugal forward has scored more than double the seven goals by Neymar, who is second in the leading scorers list.
The previous best start was established by Oviedo’s Esteban Echevarria with 14 goals through eight rounds to start the 1943-44 season.
“It is impossible to do more than what (Ronaldo) does,” said Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti. “He has to keep this up and we are going to help him.”
Javier Hernandez, James Rodriguez and Francisco “Isco” Alarcon also scored to rout the overmatched hosts at Ciutat de Valencia Stadium.
Gareth Bale didn’t play ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Liverpool in the Champions League with the first “clasico” match of the season against Barcelona coming three days later. Madrid rose into a provisional second place, one point behind Barcelona before it hosts Eibar later, when Lionel Messi will also take a shot at the history books. He needs two goals to equal the league’s all-time scorer.
Ronaldo has scored 19 goals in all competitions and found the net in 10 of his 12 appearances overall for Madrid. He also grabbed a stoppage-time winner for Portugal in a 1-0 victory over Denmark in a European Championship qualifier on Tuesday.
Hernandez had a part in Ronaldo’s first goal when he took a pass in the area and was fouled from behind by Juanfran Garcia. Ronaldo stepped up and drove in the spot kick.
Hernandez played well in place of the ill Karim Benzema and scored in the 38th when he headed Rodriguez’s cross in off the grass. Ronaldo made it 3-0 with an electrifying slalom to dribble past two defenders and cap a counterattack started by Isco.
Rodriguez scored five minutes later after deftly controlling Toni Kroos’ lobbed pass with his chest before firing the ball home, and Isco finished off the demoralised Levante in the 82nd.
Luca Modric quietly had his best outing for Madrid this season, despite missing a clear chance to get a goal of his own. Modric set up Ronaldo twice in the opening minutes only for him to misfire, and the Croatia midfielder stifled Levante’s best chance in the 26th when he cleared Victor Camarasa’s goal-bound volley from the line.
In Saturday’s other matches, Rayo defeated Granada1-0 while Athletic and Celta Vigo played out a 1-1 draw.

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