Ronaldo is fastest to 100 league goals in Spain

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Ronaldo is fastest to 100 league goals in Spain

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Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his goal during the match against Real Sociedad in Madrid, Saturday. [AP/YONHAP]

BARCELONA, Spain - Cristiano Ronaldo became the fastest player to reach 100 goals in the Spanish league by scoring a brace to help leader Real Madrid rebound from consecutive draws with a 5-1 rout against Real Sociedad on Saturday.

Gonzalo Higuain scored before both Ronaldo and Karim Benzema hit doubles as Madrid showed no signs of missing the guiding hand of suspended coach Jose Mourinho.

Madrid stayed six points clear at the top of the table following 10-man Barcelona’s 2-0 victory at Mallorca, where Lionel Messi netted his 55th goal of the season in all competitions.

Messi, who broke Barcelona’s all-time scoring record on Wednesday, netted from a poorly-defended free kick to become the first player in a top-level European league to score 55 goals in a season since Sporting Lisbon’s Mario Jardel in 2002.

Barcelona’s Thiago Alcantara received his second booking in the 56th, but Gerard Pique volleyed in Messi’s rebound off the post in the 79th to seal the victory.

“It was an important win that will permit us to prepare well for our Champions League game against AC Milan,” said coach Pep Guardiola, whose Barcelona visits Italy on Wednesday.

Madrid great Ferenc Puskas formerly held the record for the fastest player to reach 100 goals after doing so in 105 matches in the 1960s. Ronaldo needed 92 games to score 101.

Ronaldo and Messi are tied with 35 goals each this season in the Spanish league. With nine games to go, the duo are closing in on Ronaldo’s league record of 40 goals from last season.

Madrid faced the game at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium without Mourinho, defender Pepe and midfielder Mesut Oezil, who are all serving suspensions for the ill-tempered ending to the 1-1 draw at Villarreal on Wednesday.

After its defensive strategy backfired at Villarreal, Madrid started two strikers in Higuain and Benzema along with Ronaldo and Kaka.

The high-powered attack needed only six minutes to give the hosts the lead as Higuain struck a superb volley of Benzema’s pass beyond goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.

Ronaldo made it 2-0 in the 32nd when he galloped onto Kaka’s excellent throughball, took his time to size Bravo up and curled a shot by the keeper inside the far post.

Madrid scored again off a long pass behind the defense when Benzema made an exquisite control of Xabi Alonso’s lob with one touch and then gently lifted it over Bravo with the next in the 41st.

Xabi Prieto pulled one back for Sociedad a minute later with a long strike, but Madrid kept rolling, and four minutes after halftime, Benzema was left completely unmarked to blast in for his double and take his league goal tally to 16. Ronaldo then raced behind the broken Sociedad backline to tap home Higuain’s cross. AP

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