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Real Madrid coach Pellegrini: We cannot lose hope

Real Madrid thumped Athletic Bilbao 5-1 last night to maintain the pressure on Liga leaders Barcelona.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain were again on the scoresheet as Real Madrid ensured the Primera Division title race would go to the final week with an ultimately convincing victory over 10-man Athletic Bilbao.

The duo had netted 51 league goals between them in 56 games prior to this fixture and they were on the mark once more as Madrid stayed within a point of leaders Barcelona, who beat Sevilla 3-2.

Ronaldo, who struck his first hat-trick for Madrid in Wednesday's 4-1 win over Real Mallorca, opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 22nd minute in an incident that also saw Athletic defender Fernando Amorebieta sent-off.

Athletic captain Fran Yeste threatened to ruin Madrid's night when he scored a brilliant equaliser just before half-time, but four goals in the final 17 minutes from Higuain, Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema and Marcelo earned the home side their 18th win in their last 19 league games.

"The team felt anxious and discouraged for a while. We have one more match and although we had a lot of hope riding in the game in Seville, Valladolid will have a lot at stake when they visit Barcelona next week. We will maintain our pressure until the end," Real coach Manuel Pellegrini the club's official website.

"We knew that Barcelona's match against Sevilla would be more complicated than next week's against Valladolid, but you never know what can happen. We need to maintain this spirit and fight until the end. Hope is the last thing we can lose.

"We closed out a great season at the Bernabeu. We won 18 of 19 matches and scored 60 goals... that's more than three per match.

"We have now scored more than 100 goals overall. The numbers are there. We are the top scoring team."

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Tribal Football Staff

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