Cristiano Ronaldo scored two penalties as Real Madrid restored their five-point La Liga advantage with a 4-1 win over Athletic Bilbao as the club reeled from allegations of a player revolt.
Ronaldo took his season’s league tally to 23, just hours after Lionel Messi had hit a fifth hattrick of the season in Barcelona’s 4-1 triumph at Malaga on Sunday.
That put the Argentine star on 22 goals for the campaign as the champions temporarily cut the gap on their bitter rivals to two points.
On the day that Marca sports daily claimed coach Jose Mourinho had accused some Real stars of betraying him in the aftermath of the midweek King’s Cup defeat to Barca, things got worse for his side.
Fernando Llorente gave Athletic a shock lead after 12 minutes following an inch perfect pass from Javi Martinez and in an evenly-contested first half Oscar De Marcos was denied a second goal when keeper Iker Casillas blocked well.
But Real drew level with a well-worked team move which was finished by Marcelo.
Immediately after the restart Kaka was pulled back in the box by Ander Iturraspe and Ronaldo scored from the spot. As Real continued to push forward they won a second penalty after 65 minutes when Mesut Ozil was felled by De Marcos, who received a red card, and Ronaldo converted from 12 yards.
Substitute Gonzalo Higuain then hit the post from a tight angle for a rampant Real before Jose Callejon, who also came off the bench, scored the fourth with five minutes to go.
Mourinho later denied he was concerned by whistles he received from sections of the Bernabeu crowd. “This isn’t a problem for me, it didn’t happen when I was at Porto, Chelsea or Inter (Milan) but there is always a first time.”
Milan, Inter win, keep pressure on Juve
Strike pair Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho scored the goals as AC Milan emerged with a 3-0 victory from their trip to Novara and remain hot on the heels of league leaders Juventus.
In Sunday’s evening game Inter Milan came from behind to beat Lazio 2-1 and record their seventh straight win.
Juve won 2-0 at Atalanta on Saturday and had briefly put daylight between themselves and the rest but Milan’s success closes the gap to a single point.
Udinese are also hanging on in third after a 2-1 win over Catania, with Inter now fourth and another three points back.
Real Madrid 4 Athletic Bilbao 1
Bologna 0 Parma 0; Cagliari 0 Fiorentina 0; Inter Milan 2 Lazio 1; Lecce 2 Chievo Verona 2; Novara 0 AC Milan 3; Palermo 5 Genoa 3; Siena 1 Napoli 1; Udinese 2 Catania 1