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Real Madrid Sweep Past Hapless Celta Vigo To Stay Clear In La Liga

La Liga leaders Real Madrid regained their seven-point cushion at the top on Sunday as they benefited from two own goals in a comfortable 4-0 home win over struggling Celta Vigo. Vinicius Junior turned in a rebound from Antonio Rudiger’s header at the second attempt midway through the first half at the Santiago Bernabeu before a Celta side coached by former Madrid boss Rafa Benitez unravelled late on. Rudiger powered another header against the bar which bounced back off Celta goalkeeper Vicente Guaita and over the line for an own goal, effectively sealing the points for the hosts with 11 minutes left.

Guaita was then involved in a mix-up with Carlos Dominguez as the defender bundled a teasing Vinicius cross into his own net.

Turkish starlet Arda Guler, whose debut season in Spain has been ravaged by injuries, came off the bench to grab his first Madrid goal in stoppage time as Carlo Ancelotti’s side brushed off the absence of the suspended Jude Bellingham.

“I’m very happy, trying to be my best. The best part of the season is coming up, the good games, and I want to keep going like this. Hopefully staying clear of injuries, which have hampered me a bit this season,” Vinicius told Real Madrid TV.

Bellingham, the league’s top scorer this season with 16 goals, watched from the stands after an appeal against the England international’s two-match ban for his red card against Valencia last weekend was dismissed.

Madrid played poorly in a 1-1 draw against RB Leipzig on Wednesday, but it was enough to see them through to the Champions League quarter-finals 2-1 on aggregate.

Vinicius loses his cool

Vinicius was booked in that game for a spat with an opponent. The Brazilian again found himself in trouble on Sunday for angrily barging Oscar Mingueza after a couple of cynical tugs of Vinicius’ shirt.

“It was a very ugly incident. I think the referee was right to book both. What happened with Vini was a bit of frustration and it’s normal,” said Ancelotti.

“What I talk to him about stays between us. It’s something we’ve spoken about and will continue to do so. It’s not just Vini’s problem.”

Despite dropping points in three of their past five league games, Madrid had gained ground on second-placed Girona recently as the surprise challengers’ unlikely title bid began to taper off.

Madrid are now 22 games unbeaten in La Liga and eight points above reigning champions Barcelona, who are just behind Girona in third place.

“It wasn’t that difficult to do better than on Wednesday,” said Ancelotti. “We started well, we took advantage of the set-pieces to take the lead and then we got the job done.

“We’re happy, focused and motivated because it’s an important stage of the season. At Real Madrid, a draw is the first step towards a crisis.”

Celta remain in 17th and just two points above the relegation zone.

Athletic Bilbao bolstered their Champions League hopes with a 2-0 win at Las Palmas that lifted the Basque club to within two points of fourth-placed Atletico Madrid.

“This year the whole team is having a very good season,” said Athletic striker Gorka Guruzeta, who scored the opener for the visitors before Saul Coco’s second-half own goal.

“I think we have to have that calmness and approach every week as a challenge to keep winning.”

Alaves beat Rayo Vallecano 1-0 in Sunday’s early game, while Villarreal twice came from behind to win 3-2 at Real Betis in the late kick-off.

Sevilla can pull further away from the bottom three on Monday when they travel to winless Almeria.

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