MADRID (Reuters) – Real Madrid opened a two-point lead over Villarreal at the top of La Liga when Cristiano Ronaldo set a club scoring record in a 3-0 stroll at home to Levante on Saturday.
Marcelo fired Real ahead in the 27th minute at the Bernabeu when he exchanged passes with Ronaldo and blasted the ball past Ruben in the Levante goal.
Ronaldo made it 2-0 three minutes later when he cracked a long-range effort into the corner, his 324th Real goal putting him one clear of former Spain striker Raul.
It ended a rare four-match goal drought in Spain’s top flight for the Portugal captain, his joint-worst run since he joined Real in 2009.
Substitute Jese skipped past his marker and drove the ball high into the net to make it 3-0 eight minutes from time as Real secured a morale-boosting win ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League Group A match at Paris St Germain.
Levante squandered the few chances they created, although forward Deyverson did force a good save from Real’s former Levante goalkeeper Keylor Navas shortly before Ronaldo’s goal.
Champions Barcelona can join Real, who were missing several key players including Karim Benzema and Luka Modric, through injury, on 18 points with a win at home to Rayo Vallecano later on Saturday.
Barca have lost their last two away matches, falling 4-1 at Celta Vigo and 2-1 at Sevilla, and are still without talisman Lionel Messi and captain Andres Iniesta, who are out injured.
Villarreal can reclaim top spot if they beat visiting Celta Vigo on Sunday, when fifth-placed Atletico Madrid play at Real Sociedad.
(Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Toby Davis)