Real punish Barca stumble to pull three points clear
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo scores a goal against Schalke 04 during their Champions League soccer match in Gelsenkirchen (INA FASSBENDER, REUTERS / February 26, 2014)
- Real Madrid's Ronaldo kicks the ball during their Spanish first division soccer match against Levante in Madrid
- Barcelona's Pique arrives for a news conference at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester
- Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo heads the ball between Atletico Madrid's Gabi Fernandez and Joao Miranda during their Spanish first division soccer match in Madrid
- Barcelona's Carles Puyol announces his retirement at Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper in Sant Joan Despi near Barcelona
MADRID (Reuters) - Real Madrid took full advantage of Barcelona's shock reverse at lowly Real Valladolid with a 3-0 win at home to 10-man Levante on Sunday that put them three points clear at the top of La Liga.
Cristiano Ronaldo, the top scorer in Spain this season, took his tally to 24 goals when he headed the opener from Angel Di Maria's corner in the 11th minute and Marcelo added a second from Ronaldo's assist four minutes after the break.
David Navarro was harshly shown a straight red card in the 64th minute for an innocuous-looking tackle on Ronaldo and fellow Levante defender Nikos Karampelas put the ball into his own net nine minutes from time.
Ronaldo, who became Portugal's leading scorer with a double against Cameroon in Wednesday's 5-1 friendly victory, came close to a second in the 90th minute when he headed against the underside of the crossbar and Gareth Bale whistled a low shot just past the post in added time.
Real have 67 points with 11 matches left, with city rivals Atletico Madrid three behind in second after they won 2-0 at Celta Vigo on Saturday.
Champions Barca, who play at Real in the La Liga "Clasico" in two weeks time, turned in one of their worst performances of the campaign on Saturday at Valladolid, who are battling relegation, and slipped to third on 63 points.
(Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Rex Gowar)