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Jan 25, 2014

Real Madrid go top with win

Cristiano Ronaldo paraded his Ballon d'Or trophy and scored his league-leading 22nd goal, helping Real Madrid to provisionally move top La Liga with a 2-0 win over Granada on Saturday.

Ronaldo soaked up an ovation from fans in the Bernabeu as he held up his award before the match, which he then put his stamp on with a pinpoint strike to score in the 56th minute.

Ronaldo scored his 32nd goal in 28 games overall this season after receiving a pass from Luka Modric, who has established himself as Carlo Ancelotti's most reliable midfielder both in attack and defense. Ronaldo turned with the ball, shuffled to his left, and slotted a left-footed strike inside the post before running to the end-line to bask in his second showering of applause for the day.

Karim Benzema sealed Madrid's ninth straight win -- and seventh consecutive clean sheet -- in all competitions in the 74th minute, moments after Ronaldo's deflected free kick clipped the crossbar.

Madrid's Gareth Bale was substituted at halftime after being kicked in the groin early on. Ancelotti said after the game Bale wasn't injured, just "uncomfortable," and he expects his winger to be ready for the Copa del Rey match against Espanyol on Tuesday.

Madrid moved two points above Barcelona and Atletico Madrid before they both play on Sunday.

Also Saturday, Levante twice overcame one-goal deficits before Simao Mate scrambled in the 75th-minute winner to topple Sevilla 3-2 on the road, dealing the Andalusian side their first defeat in nine rounds.

Levante goalkeeper Keylor Navas again proved to be among the best in Spain with multiple saves, while Sevilla midfielder Ivan Rakitic scored his 10th goal of the season after missing a penalty.

Levante's Nikos Karabelas and Sevilla's Jairo Samperio were both shown red cards late.

Espanyol's promising striker Jhon Cordoba scored from long range before earning a penalty to help draw 2-2 at Valencia as both teams stayed in the upper half of the table.

Espanyol forward Sergio Garcia used a back-heeled pass for Cordoba to score from long-range in the third minute at Mestalla Stadium.

Valencia rallied back ahead from goals by Pablo Alcacer in the seventh and Jonas in the 32nd, but Garcia converted a spot kick before halftime after Cordoba was brought down by Jeremy Mathieu.

Valladolid ended Villarreal's three-game winning run with a 1-0 victory at home courtesy of defender Jesus Rueda's 40th-minute header to provisionally escape the relegation zone.

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