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Mon 11 Feb 2008 07:15 AM

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Real in seventh heaven

Real Madrid have bounced back from their Almeria defeat with a 7-0 victory over Valladolid.

Real Madrid bounced back from their Almeria defeat with a resounding 7-0 victory over Valladolid on Sunday to surge eight points clear at the top of the Spanish first division.

Barcelona's 1-1 draw with Sevilla on Saturday gave Real a chance to stretch their five-point lead and they made light work of Valladolid thanks to four goals in 13 minutes.

Dutch international Arjen Robben's first goal in Real's colours, a brace from captain Raul, taking his season's tally to 11, and efforts from Julio Baptista and Guti gave Real a 5-0 first-half lead.

Guti added his second and Roysten Drenthe scored his first league goal after the interval as Real, who have won all their matches at the Santiago Bernabeu this season, cruised to victory.

The 7-0 demolition was not Real's biggest ever league win with Elche routed 11-2 back in the 1959/60 season.

"When there is an emergency the team responds and and that is the biggest positive to take from today," said Real coach Bernd Schuster.

"We try to play down the flanks with a lot of pace and with Robben and Robinho we have that option and that is where most of our goals came from.

"It is not normal to win 7-0 and we have to enjoy the games like this."

Earlier, Atletico Madrid took a giant stride towards the Champions League with a 2-0 win over rivals Racing Santander moving them back into the top four.

Uruguayan international Diego Forlan scored both second half goals as Atletico, who had collected just one point from the last nine, took the spoils in Santander.

"In recent matches the ball has just not gone in but it finally did today," said Atletico coach Javier Aguirre."Forlan needed the goals and we all know that strikers go on runs in front of goal and we hope that this is the start not just for him but for the whole team."

Atletico's win was even more significant as rivals Espanyol lost 2-1 at home to Recreativo Huelva and fall to fifth two points behind Atletico.

"Recreativo were deserved winners," said Espanyol boss Ernesto Valverde.

"We weren't so bad but we have high expectations after some good results and we have to live up to them. Things are not going great at the moment."

With Ruud van Nistelrooy injured, compatriot Robben, a 36million euro signing from Chelsea in the summer, made his first start since early October.

He had an immediate impact setting up Baptista for the opening goal on eight minutes.

Brazilian winger Robinho gave Schuster a headache when he went off injured early on and Drenthe replaced him.

Valladolid looked dangerous but Real showed their class with four goals in 13 minutes to wow the home fans.

On the half-hour mark, Raul rounded the goalkeeper to make it 2-0 and two minutes later Robben scored his first Real goal.

Raul (38min) notched his second from the penalty spot and Guti (43) netted to make it 5-0 at half-time.

Real seem to like playing teams beginning with the letter 'V' as they trounced Villarreal 5-0 and Valencia 5-1 this season before the Valladolid drubbing.

At the bottom, Recreativo gave new manager Manolo Zambrano the perfect start on his debut with a 2-1 win at Espanyol.

Former Liverpool man Florent Sinama Pongolle scored twice inside the first 25 minutes to stun Espanyol.

Elsewhere, Valencia continued their recovery with a 3-1 win over Real Betis courtesy of a double from David Villa and a Daniel Silva strike.

Valencia are now just a point behind Racing who occupy the final UEFA Cup spot.

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