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Ronaldo, Messi hit record 41-goal mark

Updated: 2012-04-16 07:58
( China Daily)

Ronaldo, Messi hit record 41-goal mark

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo (right) heads the ball next to Sporting Gijon's Damian Suarez during their Spanish first-division match at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on Saturday. Real Madrid won, 3-1. [Photo/Agencies]

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi took their La Liga goals tally this season to a record-breaking 41 each on Saturday.

First, Ronaldo broke his own mark of last season by scoring in the 3-1 come-from-behind victory over Sporting Gijon.

Later Saturday, Messi grabbed a brace as Barcelona also hit back from a goal down to defeat Levante 2-1 as the champions stayed four points behind Real with the mouthwatering, season-defining El Clasico to come next weekend.

On a night of landmarks, Real's third goal was its 107th of La Liga this season.

It puts it level with John Toshack's Real Madrid team of the 1989-90 season with Jose Mourinho's side still with five matches to play.

"The records come as a result of the work of all the players who have given so much and deserve to be champions," said Real assistant coach Aitor Karanka.

"For those who say that Jose Mourinho is a defensive coach then you just need to look at these statistics."

A Sergio Ramos handball had seen Miguel Angel De las Cuevas put Sporting ahead from the penalty spot after half an hour before Gonzalo Higuain equalized with a header after 36 minutes.

Ronaldo finally broke Sporting's resistance with a header after 73 minutes and, following the dismissal of Roberto Canella for a second yellow card, Karim Benzema hit the third.

Nuri Sahin began in midfield for Real alongside Sami Khedira, with Xabi Alonso suspended.

Jose Callejon was included in a four-pronged attack with Benzema on the bench, with Mourinho holding him back for the Champions League semifinal with Bayern Munich on Tuesday.

Sporting won a controversial penalty after Ramos slid in to clear the ball and the referee claimed he handled it. De las Cuevas sent the ball straight down the middle of the goal to give Sporting the lead.

Real responded with Khedira going close with a shot from the edge of the area before Higuain headed in the equalizer.

Ramos crossed for the Argentine, who had not been picked up by Sporting defense, and he knocked the ball past keeper Juan Pablo.

Mourinho brought on Benzema and Angel Di Maria for the second half.

Ronaldo had further shots from distance and Benzema missed a half chance but they appeared to be lacking inspiration before Ronaldo headed in a 74th-minute Di Maria cross.

Canella, who was already on a yellow card, picked up a second for a foul on Di Maria and then, nine minutes from the end, Benzema sealed the win with a shot from a Mesut Ozil pass.

"This result is important in lifting us for the upcoming match in London and then the Madrid game," said Barca coach Pep Guardiola with his side facing Chelsea in the Champions League semifinal on Wednesday.

"Now we are going to think about the Chelsea match and then Madrid, which will be a very hard game. We have won the last three titles, but if they win this time then that will be that."

Agence France-Presse in Madrid

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