Real Madrid striker Raul celebrates scoring one of his two goal against Sporting Gijon during their Primera Liga encounter at the Molinon Stadium in Gijon on Sunday. Raul became the club's all-time leading scorer with 309 goals surpassing Alfredo di Stefano's long-standing record of 307 goals. Photo: AFP
Real Madrid coach Juande Ramos paid tribute to captain Raul after the former Spain international scored twice in Real's 4-0 win over Sporting Gijon to become the club's all-time leading scorer with 309 goals.
Raul, 31, scored twice to overtake Alfredo di Stefano's long-standing record of 307 as Real marched to an eighth successive league win that helped them close to within ten points of leaders Barcelona.
"It will be many years before there is another player that emerges to beat his record," said Ramos. "The team scores the goals but Raul has had a great career over many years and deserves all the praise that comes his way."
Dutch forward Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was also on target with his first Real goal while Brazilian Marcelo also grabbed a rare goal.
Real have managed to shave two points off Barcelona's lead this weekend after their rivals' run of ten consecutive wins came to an end with a 2-2 draw at Real Betis on Saturday.
Real are ten points behind Barcelona with 15 games left although the leaders have the superior head-to-head record having beaten Real 2-0 at Camp Nou in December.
Raul struck after 15 minutes with his record-breaking 308th goal in Real's colours and Sporting - hammered 7-1 by Real in September - justifiably feared another rout.
Huntelaar had not scored for Real since a 20-million-euro move from Ajax but broke his duck with a neat finish on 37 minutes.
Marcelo, jeered by Real fans on several occasions this season, then produced a deft finish to wrap up the game early in the second period before Raul netted again.
Villarreal finished above Barcelona last season but have been anything but consistent this campaign and drew 1-1 with Racing Santander on Sunday.
Villarreal are now locked on 38 points with Valencia who drew 1-1 with Malaga on Saturday.
After three straight defeats Sevilla got back to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over ten-man Espanyol to go third, three points clear of Valencia and Villarreal.
Frederic Kanoute, 31, scored twice in the final seven minutes to leave Espanyol deflated.
Espanyol have not won since the beginning of November and fell to the foot of the table, three points from safety, after Real Mallorca climbed above them with a 1-0 win over fellow strugglers Numancia.
Atletico Madrid could not take advantage of slips from Valencia and Villarreal drawing 1-1 with derby rivals Getafe.
Diego Forlan scored his 15th goal of the season to put Atletico ahead but Juan Albin equalised in the 88th minute for Getafe.
It was an emotional rollercoaster for Albin who had horribly skied a penalty over the crossbar eight minutes before his leveller.
Atletico lie sixth two points behind Valencia and Villarreal with Sevilla five points ahead.