Soccer — Spanish and Italian leaguesTuesday, January 7, 2014
Ronaldo dedicates goals to Eusebio in Madrid win
AC Milan’s Kaká scores 100th goal
A late double from Cristiano Ronaldo put some gloss on a stuttering performance from Real Madrid as they beat Celta Vigo 3-0 to cut the gap at the top of La Liga to five points.
BARCELONA, Spain — Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice yesterday to help Real Madrid beat Celta Vigo 3-0 to stay in touch with the top of the Spanish standings, and then dedicated his goals to the memory of Portuguese great Eusebio.
Ronaldo said his league-leading 19th and 20th goals of the season “were for Eusébio,” the former Benfica star who died on Sunday at the age of 71.
“He was very close to me and helped me a lot,” Ronaldo said of his countryman. “He is a mythic figure, and for me today is a very sad day.”
Before the match Ronaldo locked arms with his teammates on the center circle and turned his gaze upward during a minute of silence for Eusebio at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Hours before in Lisbon, tens of thousands of people turned out to pay tribute to the 1965 Ballon d’Or winner, who is considered among the best players of all time. “I appreciate the acts of homage made here at the stadium and throughout Spain,” Ronaldo said. “It’s important to feel the sympathy from Spain and the rest of the world.”
Ronaldo moved one goal ahead of Atlético Madrid’s Diego Costa as the Spanish league’s top scorer by finding the net in the 82nd minute and again in stoppage time from a cross by substitute Gareth Bale on his return from a three-week injury layoff.
Celta’s attack, led by midfielder Rafina Alcantara, created the clearest chances of the match until Benzema broke through from close range in the 67th with his ninth goal in league play this campaign.
Madrid’s win after the league’s two-week winter break left it five points behind Barcelona and Atlético, who play each other in the next round in the Spanish capital.
Also, Villarreal striker Ikechukwu Uche scored a hat trick and Jeremy Perbet added two more goals in a 5-2 win at Rayo Vallecano.
ITALIAN LEAGUE. Kaká scored his 100th goal for AC Milan yesterday to help it to a much-needed 3-0 win over Atalanta in Serie A, and Napoli beat Sampdoria 2-0 to close the gap on second-place Roma.
Kaká, who is in his second spell at Milan, scored twice to take his tally to 101 goals for the club. Teenage striker Bryan Cristante scored the third in his first start.
In the early match, Dries Mertens scored twice to help Napoli move two points behind Roma, which lost to Juventus on Sunday. Also, Luca Toni scored twice as newly-promoted Hellas Verona won 3-1 at Udinese, while Edy Reja steered Lazio to a 1-0 victory over Inter Milan in his first match back in charge.
In other matches, it was: Parma 3 Torino 1; Catania 2, Bologna 0; and Genoa 2 Sassuolo 0.
SPANISH LEGUE — La Liga: Rayo Vallecano 2 Villarreal 5; Real Madrid 3 Celta Vigo 0.
ITALIAN LEAGUE — Serie A: AC Milan 3 Atalanta Bergamo 0; Catania 2 Bologna 0; Genoa 2 Sassuolo 0; Lazio 1 Inter Milan 0; Napoli 2 Sampdoria 0; Parma 3 Torino 1; Udinese 1 Verona 3.