Real Madrid comes from behind to defeat Levante
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -- Cristiano Ronaldo went on as a substitute to seal Real Madrid's 5-1 win over Levante as it maintained its dominant form on Saturday ahead of its Champions League quarterfinal at Galatasaray.
Not to be topped, Barcelona scored five goals of their own ahead of their Champions League quarterfinal date with PSG, defeating Mallorca 5-0 behind a hat-trick from Cesc Fabregas at Camp Nou.
Elsewhere, high-flying Real Sociedad romped to a 4-2 win over Malaga in San Sebastian, while Deportivo La Coruna provisionally escaped last place by beating visiting Real Zaragoza 3-2.i.
Levante's Miguel "Michel'' Alfonso launched and polished off a counterattack to put the visitors ahead in the 31st.
But Gonzalo Higuain's exquisite volley of Xabi Alonso's pass pulled Madrid level five minutes later, and Kaka grabbed the lead in the 39th with a spot kick after Christian Lell handled in the area.
Ronaldo went on at halftime after resting up for Tuesday's game at Galatasaray where his team will look to protect its 3-0 cushion to reach the semifinals. Mesut Oezil and Angel Di Maria soon followed.
"The series isn't over. If we go with the ambition to score a goal, we will go through fine,'' said Ronaldo. "The team was playing well but after the 1-0 anything could have happened. They responded well with two goals. Then I came on and contributed with a goal and an assist. We're all happy.''
Levante coach Juan Ignacio Martinez also made three substitutions to refresh his attack, but the plan backfired as his defense finally crumbled under Madrid's pressure and turned a dignified loss into a humbling rout.
Ronaldo was left unmarked in the heart of the area in the 84th to receive a pass from Higuain and fire home his 29th league goal. Oezil was likewise unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box to push in short passes from Ronaldo in the 87th and Di Maria in stoppage time.
Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas watched from the dugout after being included in Madrid's squad for the first time since breaking his hand in January. Coach Jose Mourinho has said that Diego Lopez is his first-choice `keeper.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon took the honorary kickoff at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Fabregas scored a hat trick to shine in place of the injured Lionel Messi as Barcelona thrashed Mallorca 5-0 in the Spanish league on Saturday.
Messi is trying to recover from a right hamstring injury for Paris Saint-Germain's visit on Wednesday with their Champions League quarterfinal poised at 2-2.
But if he does not make it, Barcelona showed it has other scoring options in Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez, who netted a double and set up Fabregas' first two goals.
Eric Abidal went on in the 70th minute for his first game with Barcelona since a liver transplant last year.
Barcelona leads the league by 13 points.
Sociedad's win over Malaga strengthened its hold on fourth place against a direct rival for Spain's last Champions League berth come next season.
Sociedad extended its league-best run to 20 straight games with only one loss, and increased the gap over Malaga to four points with eight games to go.
"We are satisfied, we showed fine finishing touch today,'' said Sociedad coach Philippe Montanier. "We put in four goals, although it was a strange game. We didn't generate many scoring chances but we proved to be very efficient with the ones we had.''
Carlos Vela opened for Sociedad with his 13th goal this season in the 21st minute. Left back Alberto de la Bella blasted in a long strike three minutes later, and Antoine Griezmann made it 3-0 in the 30th.
Pedro Morales scored for the visitors in the 43rd. Defender Inigo Martinez headed in Sociedad's fourth in the 51st, before Roque Santa Cruz struck for Malaga in the 70th.
Malaga visits Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday with their Champions League quarterfinal poised at 0-0.
Deportivo's third straight victory left it just one point behind Zaragoza, which is clinging to safety after not winning a game so far in 2013.