Real keeps Barcelona in sight

BARCELONA - Real Madrid hoped to keep on the pressure on Barcelona with a win against Villarreal yesterday, after the league leaders widened the gap at the top with a 4-0 drubbing of Racing Santander.

In mid-week, Real suffered a disappointing Champions League defeat by Lyon. Defender Alvaro Arbeloa said his team needed to bounce back.

"There are three weeks before we play the second leg of the Champions League and we have a key game against Villarreal coming up where we will need to get our game back on track and give ourselves confidence," Arbeloa said.

Spanish league leaders Barcelona at the weekend cruised to a 4-0 win over Racing Santander.

The Catalan side had seen their lead at the top reduced to two points after their first league defeat last weekend against Atletico Madrid.

Despite missing several key players including Dani Alves, Xavi Hernandez and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Barca went ahead after seven minutes through Andres Iniesta who latched onto a loose ball in the penalty area.

Racing conceded a tame goal when a Thierry Henry free-kick went straight through their wall, but then minutes later another from almost exactly the same spot was struck perfectly by veteran Mexican Rafa Marquez and went in off the post.

Substitute Thiago Alcantara made Barca's win more emphatic in the second half. - Sapa-AFP