Ronaldo breaks his own scoring record as Madrid maintain lead

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring Real Madrid's second goal on Saturday and his 41st of this year's La Liga campaign.

Story highlights

  • Cristiano Ronaldo takes league tally to 41 goals as Madrid win 3-1 win Sporting Gijon
  • Lionel Messi joins him on same number with two goals for Barcelona in 2-1 win at Levante
  • Real Madrid stay four points clear of champions Barca in the La Liga title race

Cristiano Ronaldo beat his own La Liga scoring record on Saturday as Real Madrid maintained a four-point advantage over rivals Barcelona with a 3-1 win over Sporting Gijon.

The Portugal international's header in the 74th minute took his tally of goals to 41 this season -- a mark equaled later in the night by Lionel Messi as Barcelona beat Levante 2-1.

Ronaldo's record-breaking goal was a vital one, putting Madrid ahead for the first time in the game after Miguel De Las Cuevas had given Gijon the lead from the penalty spot in the 30th minute.

Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain pulled one back before halftime but Ronaldo's effort guided a lackluster Madrid towards three vital points.

Five minutes later Gijon defender Roberto Canella was dismissed by the referee for a second bookable offense which paved the way for France forward Karim Benzema to add a third in the 82nd minute.

The loss left Sporting struggling down in 19th place on 28 points three points ahead of bottom-side Racing Santander (who travel to Villarreal on Sunday) and level on points with Real Zaragoza who host Granada, also on Sunday.

Barcelona also had to come from behind in their match at Levante after Jose Barkero gave the home side the lead from the penalty spot in the 23rd minute.

Barcelona passed and probed without much joy until the 63rd minute when, inevitably, Lionel Messi put his side back on level terms with a curling effort from the edge of the box.

Six minutes later they were awarded a controversial penalty when the linesman flagged for a challenge on Isaac Cuenca by Pedro Botelho after the referee had waved play on.

A gaggle of furious Levante players protested to the officials in vain before Messi stepped up to put an unstoppable spot kick past goalkeeper Gustavo Munua.

The Argentine's two goals took his tally in all competitions this season to an incredible 63.

With five league games left, Madrid have 85 points to Barcelona's 81.