Higuain hat-trick leads four-goal Real to top | sports | Hindustan Times
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Higuain hat-trick leads four-goal Real to top

Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain hit his second hat-trick in a week to lead Real Madrid to a 4-1 mauling of Real Betis on Saturday and top spot in La Liga.

sports Updated: Oct 16, 2011 02:09 IST

Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain hit his second hat-trick in a week to lead Real Madrid to a 4-1 mauling of Real Betis on Saturday and top spot in La Liga.

Higuain had also hit three for Argentina in a World Cup qualifying victory against Chile and his golden streak continued to give Real a one-point lead over bitter rivals Barcelona who are at home to Racing Santander later.

For Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo started his 100th match for the club and Jose Mourinho's team were quickly into their stride.

Kaka whipped in a dangerous cross from the left which Betis goalkeeper Casto Espinosa was only able to parry out to Mesut Ozil whose shot was charged down by defender Antonio Amaya.

On 21 minutes it was again the in-form Kaka who found Higuain with space to centre for Ronaldo whose glancing header should have put Madrid ahead.

Madrid continued to pressure while Betis were content to launch the odd foray into their opponents half.

On 40 minutes one of those Betis attacks saw Ruben Castro volley over from the edge of the area.

Three minutes later Ronaldo and Kaka paired up again, the former crossing for the latter whose shot went narrowley wide and a closely fought first-half finished goalless.

Within 30 seconds of the restart however Madrid were ahead.

Marcelo's long, raking pass found Ronaldo's attacking run down the left and one touch was all he needed to present Higuain with an open goal.

Casto Espinosa came to Betis' rescue on 56 minutes, blocking acrobatically twice to deny Higuain and then Kaka.

However he could do nothing two minutes later when Kaka placed a curling right-footed shot into the bottom right corner from just inside the area on receiving a pass from Ronaldo.

Jorge Molina pulled a goal back for Betis from close range on 69 minutes after Ruben Castro fought his way through the Madrid defence, but any hope Betis had of taking anything from the game lasted less than a minute.

Angel Di Maria found Higuain with a beautifully weighted pass from the right wing that left the Argentine to neatly take the ball round Casto and finish into an open net.

On 73 minutes Higuain completed his hat-trick when his compatriot Di Maria again found him with a defence splitting pass that he chipped over the oncoming Casto.

Valencia missed out on joining Madrid on 16 points after drawing 1-1 at Mallorca.

A Mehmet Topal handball in the third minute of time added-on allowed Israeli Tomer Hemed to equalise from the spot for Mallorca after French international defender Adil Rami had scored from close range on 38 minutes for Valencia.

Villarreal warmed up for their crucial Champions League game against Manchester City on Tuesday with a 0-0 draw at Getafe.