Real Madrid strolls to 3-0 win over Sevilla
MADRID (AP) -- Karim Benzema scored two second-half goals as Spanish leader Real Madrid closed in on its first league title in four years by strolling to a 3-0 victory over Sevilla on Sunday.
The France striker struck twice in quick succession early in the second half as Madrid bounced back from its Champions League semifinal exit to Bayern Munich.
Madrid provisionally moved 10 points clear of Barcelona, which must win at Rayo Vallecano later Sunday to keep its slim chances of a fourth straight league trophy.
Cristiano Ronaldo extended his league record goal total to 43 with a first-half opener that was the Portugal forward's 57th goal of the season at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
Madrid showed no side effects from Wednesday's disappointing European loss when Ronaldo and Kaka both failed to convert penalties in Madrid's bid for a first Champions League final appearance in 10 years.
Madrid could be celebrating its record 32nd league trophy if Barcelona fails to win at the Vallecas Stadium, in the first game since coach Pep Guardiola announced he was leaving at the end of the season with assistant Tito Vilanova his replacement.
"This is good for us, it was a very important game for us as we continue on looking to be champions,'' Benzema told Canal Plus TV as Madrid reached 91 points to Barcelona's 81. "The Champions League is in the past, we only care about the league now.''
Benzema set up Ronaldo's 19th-minute opener as he rolled a short pass into his teammate's path and the Portugal forward cut back to shake his marker and slot home a low shot inside the opposite corner.
Benzema then tested Javi Varas, who had denied Marcelo from a tight angle, before watching the post stop Ronaldo's free kick from next to the penalty spot in the 36th.
Benzema atoned for a pair of first-half misses in the 48th when he redirected Angel di Maria's skipping cross into the area past Varas.
Four minutes later, Varas could only watch Benzema's powerful header of a Sergio Ramos cross fly past him into the top of the goal.
It was the Frenchman's 20th league goal and 31st in all competitions, making this his best season at Madrid.
Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas was rarely tested aside from Alvaro Negredo's weak effort moments before Benzema's first goal.
Madrid extended its league record goal tally to 112 goals with three games remaining for the club to further inflate the total.
"The sooner (we win the league), the better,'' Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka said.
Third-place Valencia, which has 55 points, is only three points above Malaga before their match on Sunday, when Real Betis hosts Atletico Madrid and Zaragoza must beat Athletic Bilbao to keep up its hopes of avoiding the drop.
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