Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain both scored twice as Real Madrid went back to the top of Spain's La Liga with a 4-2 win at Getafe on Thursday, replacing Barcelona on goal difference.
It was a 10th successive league victory for Real with three goals in the first 23 minutes wrapping up the game as the Madrid giants steamrolled their near neighbours. Ronaldo opened the scoring in the 13th minute, curling in a superb free-kick from close range before Argentine striker Higuain marked a century of games with a double inside three minutes to take his season's tally to 22.
Portuguese star Ronaldo grabbed his second, and 17th of the season, on 37 minutes to make it 4-0 before Real old boy Daniel Parejo pulled a goal back for the hosts in a goal-packed first period.
The Coliseum had been a difficult venue for Real over the years, losing 3-1 there last season. But there was no chance of a repeat horror show when Real surged into a four-goal first half lead. "It was a good result that had not been good to us in the past and we are now back at the top," said Real coach Manuel Pellegrini. "We reduced our level of intensity in the second half due to the proximity of the derby (on Sunday) and to avoid yellow cards."
A foul right on the edge of the area gave Ronaldo a sight on goal and the former Manchester United man planted a pinpoint free-kick into the corner for a 13th minute opener.
Higuain then got himself on the scoresheet latching on to a Rafael van der Vaart pass before finishing smartly on 20 minutes. Getafe were shocked when the Argentine scored again three minutes later for his 22nd goal of the campaign, three goals behind Barcelona's Lionel Messi in the goalscoring charts.
Esteban Granero and Sergio Ramos spurned chances for Real before Ronaldo scored an individual goal with several step-overs before rifling a shot into the net although goalkeeper Oscar Ustari should have done better.
At 4-0 the game was up although Getafe pulled a goal back a minute later through Parejo following a mistake from Iker Casillas. Casillas flapped at the ball and tried to atone for his mistake by racing out of his goal but Parejo slid to take the ball and leave the Spanish international goalkeeper in pain on the floor. Parejo then slotted the ball in despite pleas to put the ball out with Casillas on the ground injured. The Spain captain was furious and refused to accept Parejo's hand of apology after the goal.
Predictably the second half failed to match the excitement of the action-packed first period with Getafe raising their game after a dreadful first 45 minutes while Real went off the boil. The hosts pulled a second goal back on 80 minutes when a deflected shot fell to Pedro Leon who made no mistake from close range.
Barcelona made hard work of beating Osasuna at Camp Nou on Wednesday needing late goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Bojan Krkic. "We have 71 points and that shows we have done well," said Brazilian defender Maxwell. "At this stage of the season we can't drop points. If Madrid drop points then all the better but we have to keep focusing on ourselves."
Atletico Madrid warmed up for Sunday's derby against Real with a 2-0 home win over Athletic Bilbao to boost their chances of sneaking into Europe. Jose Llorente rattled the post in the ninth minute for Bilbao but Atletico rode their luck and Diego Forlan netted his 14th goal of the season early in the second half before Sergio "Kun" Aguero scored a second late on.
Atletico move up to eighth and close to within five points of sixth-placed Bilbao and the final European spot. "We are still in the cup and the Europa League as well as fighting for Europe in the league so it is not all bad," said Forlan.
Bilbao defender Mikel San Jose, on loan from Liverpool until the end of the season, admits Atletico are unpredictable but capable of brilliance. "They have had a season of highs and lows but if they were capable of beating Barcelona they can beat anyone," said San Jose.