Raul’s hat-trick brings Real closer to Barcelona

Madrid, April 27 (Inditop) Real Madrid moved up to within just four points of Spanish leaders Barcelona with a 4-2 win over third-place Sevilla.

Veteran captain Raul destroyed Sevilla with a crucial hat-trick, after Renato had given the hosts an early lead Sunday.

Real now have 78 points from 33 games, four less than Barca, who battled out a late 2-2 draw Saturday at fourth-placed Valencia.

Real, who have won 17 out of 19 games under Juande Ramos, are at home Saturday to Barca in a match which will largely decide the league title.

Ramos said that “the key” was Raul’s equaliser just before half-time.

“In the second half we were better,” Ramos said. “We took risks because nothing but a win was useful for us.”

Ramos was given a hostile reception by the Sevilla fans, having walked out on the club in October 2007 to join Tottenham.

Sevilla made an impressive start and could have been up 4-0 within half an hour. But they only managed to score one goal, headed in by Renato after a clever cross from Diego Perotti in the 16th minute.

Real gradually took control in midfield and levelled just before half-time, when Raul turned in a surprisingly precise centre from defender Christoph Metzelder.

The equaliser knocked the stuffing out of Sevilla, and Raul made it 2-1 in the 63rd minute by lashing in a centre from Marcelo. With the Sevilla defence in chaos, Raul made it 3-1 just three minutes later, after keeper Andres Palop had spilled a centre from Gonzalo Higuain.

Diego Capel pulled a goal back for Sevilla 10 minutes from time after a mistake by Real right-back Sergio Ramos.

But Marcelo made the game safe for the visitors by making it 4-2 in injury time.

Their fourth straight defeat leaves Sevilla in third place but now only one point ahead of fourth-placed Valencia.

Earlier, Villarreal had continued their bid to return to the Champions League with a 2-1 win at lowly Getafe.

Veteran left-back Joan Capdevila put the “Yellow Submarine” ahead after 16 minutes, and Joseba Llorente made it 2-0 just before half time.

Manu del Moral gave Getafe short-lived hope by converting a late penalty, but Villarreal had few problems in holding on for an important win.

They now have 55 points from 33 games and are fifth. They have one point less than fourth-placed Valencia – who drew 2-2 Saturday with leaders Barcelona – but three more than sixth-placed Malaga, who beat Sporting Gijon 3-1 in Sunday’s late game, with goals from Diego Forlan, Simao and Sergio Aguero.

The defeat in Madrid leaves Gijon third from bottom with just 33 points.

Below them on 30 are Recreativo Huelva – who earlier Sunday crashed 4-2 at home to Mallorca – and bottom team Numancia, who have 28 points.

Getafe are on 34, just one point above Gijon. Then on 35 are escape artists Espanyol, who have won five of their last six games under new coach Mauricio Pocchetino.

Espanyol continued their escape act on Sunday by beating Betis 2-0 with goals from Luis Garcia and Roman Martinez.

In Sunday’s other games, cup finalists Athletic Bilbao beat Racing Santander 2-1, while Osasuna battled out a 0-0 draw at Valladolid.