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By ESPN Staff

Raul hails team-mates after another victory

Real Madrid captain Raul was keen to play down his hat-trick heroics against Sevilla, preferring instead to spread the accolades around the whole of the team.

Madrid looked in some trouble in their must-win game at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan after falling a goal behind during an early onslaught by a Sevilla side attempting to bounce back from three successive defeats.

Just as it looked as though Madrid would go into the half-time interval still trailing, though, Raul popped up moments before the break to bring his side back on level terms.

It was a crucial time to score, but Raul had not finished there and he put Madrid 2-1 up in the 63rd minute with a fine finish before completing his hat-trick just three minutes later after capitalising on a fumble by Sevilla goalkeeper Andres Palop.

Raul was then substituted soon after and watched on from the sidelines as Madrid went on to complete a 4-2 victory that trimmed Barcelona's lead at the summit to just four points.

Raul's goals were undoubtedly crucial to Madrid's victory, but the veteran forward looked to praise the work of his colleagues rather than his own contribution.

"The important thing is the team's victories," said Raul, who despite earlier this season becoming Madrid's record all-time goalscorer had only netted two league hat-tricks before yesterday - both against Real Valladolid in the 1998/99 and 2003/04 campaigns.

"Of course I'm happy to have scored three goals but they are the culmination of the great collective work of the team," he added. "I'm proud of the squad and the coaching staff for this great run, which is a testament to the greatness and the history of this badge.

"I'm honoured to wear this shirt and this is a day we can be really proud of."

Next up for Madrid is Saturday's mouthwatering showdown against Barcelona at the Bernabeu - a match that could go a long way to deciding who will end up as champions this season.

Madrid have been in phenomenal form, taking 52 points from a possible 54 in recent months, but despite that Pep Guardiola's team remain clear at the summit and Raul concedes the league is still under Barca's control.

"We had the chance to cut their lead and we've taken advantage of it, but Barcelona are the ones who still have the league in their hands," said the 31-year-old on his club's website. "We have some difficult games coming up, like the one this weekend, and we have to continue winning and see where we end up.

"To beat Barcelona we will have to play very well. The match will be very difficult but I hope that backed by a good atmosphere at the Bernabeu, combined with the good run of victories we are on, we can win and continue the fight."


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