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16 on the trot for Real


AP

16 on the trot for Real

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – Cristiano Ronaldo turned playmaker to help Real Madrid set a club record with their 16th consecutive victory across all competitions by winning 2-1 at Malaga today in the Spanish football league.

Ronaldo saw his own unprecedented start to the domestic campaign end as he failed to find the net for the first time in 12 league matches, but he more than compensated by setting up Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale for the league leaders.

The Ballon d’Or holder found Benzema in the 18th minute and assisted Bale late before Malaga striker Roque Santa Cruz took advantage of Francisco “Isco” Alarcon’s sending off in the 86th by pulling one back in stoppage time.

“Ronaldo was the key to the match, he was fantastic,” said Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, who bettered the previous club mark most recently matched in 2011-12 under predecessor Jose Mourinho. “It feels like a dream. I have deep admiration for my players.”

Madrid were stopped from building a bigger lead early on by Malaga goalkeeper Carlos Kameni, who saved close-range shots by Ronaldo, Bale and Isco.

Counterpart Iker Casillas had a shaky showing throughout, spilling three shots. The captain, however, did make a diving save to turn away a free kick with Malaga surging in the final minutes.

Madrid opened up a five-point lead over Barcelona before they visit Valencia on Sunday.

Elsewhere, Athletic Bilbao remained unbeaten in six rounds after midfielder Benat Etxebarria set up one goal before scoring to secure a 2-1 win at Getafe.

Promoted Eibar continued to impress with a 1-0 victory at Celta Vigo, and Espanyol fought back 2-1 over visitors Levante under heavy rain for their first win in six games.

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