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Real Madrid edge closer to La Liga title with Sevilla win

updated 6:35 PM EDT, Sun April 29, 2012
French international Karim Benzema celebrates scoring Real Madrid's second goal in a 3-0 win against Sevilla on Saturday
French international Karim Benzema celebrates scoring Real Madrid's second goal in a 3-0 win against Sevilla on Saturday
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema earn Real Madrid a 3-0 win against Sevilla in the Bernabeu
  • Barcelona rout Rayo Vallecano 7-0 to keep slim hopes of retaining title alive
  • Malaga beat Valencia 1-0 to move up to fourth place

(CNN) -- A Karim Benzema brace helped Real Madrid to a 3-0 win over Sevilla on Sunday to edge Jose Mourinho's side one step closer to a first La Liga title in four seasons.

The French striker's goals early in the second half added to Cristiano Ronaldo's 19th minute strike to maintain their seven-point lead at the top of the table with three games remaining.

It was the perfect tonic for Real after they were knocked out of the Champions League on penalties by Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

"It was an important win and the team deserves to be champions as the players have shown their mentality and character," said Aitor Karanka, Real Madrid's assistant coach.

"We will go out looking to win games even when we are the champions, if that happens, as we only have one plan. It will be fantastic to win the league and it is the most important objective at the moment."

Barcelona, who are also coming to terms with a Champions League exit and the impending departure of coach Pep Guardiola, were runaway winners on Saturday beating Rayo Vallecano 7-0.

Puyol backs Vilanova

It was an important win and the team deserves to be champions as the players have shown their mentality and character
Aitor Karanka, Real Madrid's assistant coach

Lionel Messi opened the scoring in the 16th minute which was followed by an own goal by Roberto Correa ten minutes later.

Messi turned provider for Barca's third laying on the ball for Seydou Keita to fire a low shot past Rayo keeper David Cobeno six minutes before the break.

Pedro fired in a rebound after Messi headed against the bar at the start of the second half and Thiago scored a fifth 11 minutes from the end.

Pedro bagged a second three minutes from time but it was left to Lionel Messi to complete the rout as he scored his second in the 90th minute.

Earlier, sixth-placed Atletico Madrid scored in the third minute of injury time to salvage a 2-2 draw at Real Betis, but the result does little to enhance the Europa League finalists' chances of gaining a Champions League spot next season.

Malaga, on the other hand did, beating third place Valencia 1-0 to move into fourth and level on 55 points with Unai Emery's side.

Seventh-placed Athletic Bilbao also lost on Saturday going down 2-0 at second-from-bottom Real Zaragoza.

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