Ronaldo, Real maintain cushion over Barcelona

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 43rd La Liga goal and Karim Benzema added a brace as Real Madrid downed Sevilla, 3-0, on Sunday at the Bernabeu to maintain its seven-point lead in the standings over Barcelona.

Ronaldo opened the scoring in the 19th minute, and his 43 goals are tied with Lionel Messi for the scoring lead. Messi scored twice as Barca defeated Rayo Vallecano 7-0 on Sunday.

Benzema followed Ronaldo's goal with a brace in a three-minute stretch early in the second half. He scored in the 49th and 52nd minutes, and has 20 goals this season.

Madrid bounced back well from its Champions League exit to Bayern Munich this week, as it won for the 29th time against just two losses and four draws this season in league play.

Sevilla lost for the third time in its last five matches and sits three points off a Europa League berth in ninth place.

Barcelona 7, Rayo Vallecano 0

Madrid, Spain - Lionel Messi scored twice, running his La Liga total to 43 and his total in all competitions to 65, as Barcelona crushed Rayo Vallecano, 7-0, on Sunday at the Teresa Rivero in La Liga.

Messi is tied with Cristiano of Real Madrid in the scoring race, and Barcelona prevented its rivals from clinching the crown as its lead stayed seven points with three matches left in the season.

Barcelona quickly moved on from Tuesday's Champions League semifinal exit against Chelsea as Messi scored in the 15th minute and capped the scoring in the 90th.

Pedro also scored a brace for Barca, which got its other goals from Seydou Keita, Thiago and an own goal.

Vallecano lost its third straight and for the fourth time in its last five, and sits 15th and six points clear of the drop zone.

Malaga 1, Valencia 0

Malaga, Spain - Nacho Camacho scored in the 27th minute as Malaga defeated Valencia, 1-0, on Sunday at the Estadio La Rosaleda to climb even on 55 points with the visitors for third place in La Liga.

Valencia lost for the second time in its last three league matches, and Malaga took advantage with its first win in three games to keep the battle for third and fourth up for grabs with three matches remaining.

Third place earns qualification to the Champions League group stage and fourth has to go through the qualifying round of the tournament.

Real Zaragoza 2, Athletic Bilbao 0

Aragon, Spain - Edu Oriol and Apono scored on each side of halftime as Real Zaragoza downed Athletic Bilbao, 2-0, on Sunday at the Estadio La Romareda in La Liga.

Zaragoza won for the second time in its last three and moved even on 34 points with Sporting Gijon for 18th place, four points from safety.

Athletic Bilbao lost for the first time in its last five fixtures, and is one point behind Atletico Madrid for a Europa League berth.

Real Betis 2, Atletico Madrid 2

Seville, Spain - Falcao scored four minutes into extra time as Atletico Madrid tied Real Betis, 2-2, on Sunday at the Benito Villamarin in La Liga to remain in a Europa League place.

Atletico is sixth on 49 points, one ahead of Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna. Real Betis is 14th and nine points clear of the drop zone with three games left.