Real rally round Ronaldo for goal quest

MADRID - With the La Liga title effectively in Barcelona's hands, Real Madrid are doing their best to help Cristiano Ronaldo set new goal-scoring records as their campaign draws to a close.

The Portugal forward bagged his second hat-trick in as many matches in the 4-0 demolition of Getafe at the Bernabeu on Tuesday, making it seven scored in the last four days and taking his league tally to 36.

He set a new club record of 49 goals scored in all competitions for a season, passing the previous best of 47 set by Ferenc Puskas in 1959/60.

Ronaldo is also just two short of matching the league record of 38 achieved by Real's Hugo Sanchez in the 1989/90 campaign, and Athletic Bilbao's Telmo Zarra in 1950/51.

"Our objective now is to help Cristiano to be league top scorer," Real striker Gonzalo Higuain told reporters.

Ronaldo moved five ahead of his great rival Lionel Messi of Barcelona, who has 31 league goals so far, but he is still three short of the World Player of the Year's season tally in all competitions of 52.

Real's players were clearly looking to set up Ronaldo at every opportunity against Getafe as the 26-year-old scored with a header and a goal off each foot.

"We still have one objective which is to ensure Ronaldo finishes as league top scorer," Real assistant coach Aitor Karanka said. "It's logical that some of his team mates look for him.

"The goals record is down to the unity of the team and the enormous potential that he has. We don't know where Cristiano's limits are."

Real and Ronaldo have two league matches left this season, away to Villarreal and at home to Almeria. Barca and Messi only need a point at Levante on Wednesday to wrap up their third consecutive La Liga title, and then have two more league matches and the Champions League final against Manchester United on May 28.


Real coach Jose Mourinho was conspicuous by his absence in front of the media again, as a new rift appeared in the strained relationship between him and the club's director general Jorge Valdano.

The Portuguese has not spoken in public since UEFA gave him a five-match touchline ban in European competition last week for his sending off and verbal outburst against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final first leg.

"Mourinho decides when he wants to speak and when the opportunity is right," Argentine Valdano told Spanish television.

"There has been a lot of noise connected with him and it was important he stepped to the side for the decibels that surround him to go down."

Mourinho's spokesman countered soon afterwards: "Valdano is the spokesman for Real but not for Mourinho," Eladio Parames told Spanish radio.

"When Valdano says Mourinho took a step to the side he is deluding himself. Jose will make noise when he wants to and he will without ambiguity."