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In brief: Sky's the limit for Hodgson

Roy Hodgson believes West Brom have the potential to become an established Premier League force. Head coach Hodgson has steered Albion to the verge of guaranteeing top-flight football for a third successive season ahead of today's home clash with Newcastle.

"You probably have got to look four or five years down the line," he said. "Then it would be nice to think West Brom are being mentioned in the same breath as Everton or Aston Villa, with people not contemplating relegation and thinking instead 'can it be a European year?'. I do think we will get over the 40-point mark at some stage. I am not fearful, I'm looking upwards rather than backwards, but I'm not bold enough to say there is no danger because stranger things have happened."

West Brom v Newcastle,

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Real restore six-point lead

La Liga leaders Real Madrid ended a run of two straight draws and restored their six-point advantage over arch rivals Barcelona when they crushed Real Sociedad 5-1 last night.

Coach Jose Mourinho was banned from the bench, after being sent off during Wednesday's 1-1 stalemate at Villarreal for criticising the referee but two goals each from Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, and one from Gonzalo Higuain, lifted Real to 75 points with nine matches remaining.

Barca have 69 points in second after Lionel Messi's free-kick had earlier set them on their way to a 2-0 victory at Real Mallorca, the Argentinian World Player of the Year's 18th goal in his last nine games for his club.

Barca were cruising until Thiago Silva's harsh 57th-minute second yellow and the champions endured a nervy 20 minutes before Gerard Pique slotted home the rebound from a Messi shot.

Hibs' home woes continue

Goals from Johnny Russell and Gary Mackay-Steven deepened Hibernian's relegation worries as Dundee United won 2-0 at Easter Road. After Leigh Griffiths hit the post for Hibs in an even first half, United cut through their hosts twice in quick succession, with Russell netting after 65 minutes before putting Mackay-Steven through for the second with 17 minutes remaining.

Pat Fenlon's Hibs remain with one SPL home win this season and now sit just three points clear of bottom club Dunfermline, who yesterday drew 1-1 with St Mirren, with seven matches remaining.

"We've done all right in the first half and been non-existent in the second half," said Fenlon. "We concede the first goal, get very nervous and very edgy. We go to pieces a little bit."

Motherwell fail to take chance

Paul Heffernan made it a happy homecoming for Kilmarnock's cup final heroes with a second-half double which set up an Old Firm title decider. The Irishman finished at the second attempt just after the break before converting a penalty as Kilmarnock followed up their Scottish Communities League Cup final glory with a 2-0 home victory over Motherwell. Motherwell were lacking in creativity and missed the chance to move above Rangers into second place. They now find themselves too far behind Celtic to deprive the leaders of a title party should Neil Lennon's men win at Ibrox today.

Before the game, Kilmarnock players paid tribute to absent midfielder Liam Kelly, whose father's death had cut short their celebrations last Sunday.

Leeds show fighting spirit

Ross McCormack fired Leeds to victory as Neil Warnock's side put their midweek mauling behind them to win 1-0 at arch-rivals Milwall. The Elland Road men arrived in south London still smarting from Tuesday's 7-3 humbling by Nottingham Forest but McCormack's second-half strike, and a penalty save by Andy Lonergan 60 seconds later, helped banish those memories.

McCormack struck from close range for his first goal in eight matches and Lonergan secured the points when he kept out Darius Henderson's spot-kick.

Harte on mark for Royals

Second-placed Reading moved four points clear of West Ham in the Championship with an impressive 3-1 win over play-off contenders Blackpool. The hosts took the lead in the 30th minute when Ian Harte followed up after Jobi McAnuff struck the woodwork. Five minutes later the Royals doubled their advantage as McAnuff was again the provider, chipping to the back post for Alex Pearce to head home.

Lomana LuaLua pulled a goal back for the visiting Tangerines just before the break with a stunning long-range strike but after the interval Mikele Leigertwood nodded in Reading's third. Southampton remain five points clear of Reading in first place after a double from Billy Sharp saw off Doncaster 2-0.

Sunday Indo Sport