La Liga - Ronaldo inspires Real rout
A Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick helped Real Madrid to a 4-0 victory over city-rivals Getafe at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The Portuguese winger notched his 47th, 48th, and 49th goals of the season either side of half-time, with Karim Benzama completing the scoring seconds after coming onto the pitch as a substitute - as a typically assured Real ensured that arch-rivals Barcelona’s hands stay off the Liga trophy for a few more hours.
Mesut Ozil was the mastermind as Real took a deserved lead in the 24th-minute – curling a tremendous cross towards the back post from the right, for Ronaldo to meet.
The former World Player of the Year produced a prodigious leap to connect with the ball, glancing it expertly inside the far post and beyond the flailing Oscar Ustari.
Ozil almost doubled Madrid’s lead with a left-foot piledriver - which was deflected just wide of the left-hand post four minutes later – before Ronaldo hit the side-netting with a trade-mark free-kick.
Despite their first-half dominance Getafe almost forced a surprise equaliser, but Adrian Colunga’s powerful header was blocked in front of goal, and the 26-year-old’s follow-up soared wide of the right post.
A lively start to the second-half saw Ronaldo hit the side-netting with a long-range free-kick in the 54th-minute, but the packed Bernabeu didn’t have long to wait before the league’s leading goal-scorer had them out of their seats once again.
Gonzalo Higuain latched onto a low ball into the box, drawing Getafe’s Argentine goalkeeper Ustari off his line before stabbing the ball wide to Ozil.
The German unselfishly squared the ball to Ronaldo, who had the simplest of tasks to prod the ball into the back of the net to put some much-needed breathing space between the two teams.
Casquero wasted another chance to put Getafe on the scoreboard just two minutes later – firing wide from the edge of the area with the whole goal to aim for – and substitute Benzema made the visitors pay with Real’s third in the 77th minute.
His first touch after coming on as a substitute was to control Xabi Alonso’s sublime long ball into the box, and the French hit-man used his second to knock the ball expertly into the top corner.
Ustari did his best to limit the damage with tremendous saves from Ronaldo and Alonso as a rampant Real turned the screw in the closing minutes of the match, but Ronaldo was not to be denied a second hat-trick in as many games - the Portuguese winger winning a penalty in the dying seconds of the match after a sloppy challenge from full-back Mane inside the box.
Ronaldo cheekily chipped the resulting spot-kick right down the middle to notch his seventh goal in two matches, moving five goals clear of nearest rival Lionel Messi at the top of La Liga’s top goal-scorers.
The three points also moved Real to within five points of Barcelona, who now need at least one point when they travel to Levante tomorrow evening.
Meanwhile, Deportivo La Coruna gave their Liga survival hopes a huge boost with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao at the Riazor.
Deportivo’s recent woes looked set to continue when – despite a positive start from the hosts – they fell behind three minutes into the match.
Bilbao carved open the blue and white defence with alarming ease, as 26-year-old striker Gaizka Toquero found a gap between the centre-halves and knocked a first-time finish inside the far post with his side’s first shot of the match.
Relegation-threatened Deportivo could have crumbled after conceding the early goal, but coach Miguel Angel Lotina would have been pleased to see his side’s energetic response to going behind – equalising with a slightly fortuitous goal just 19 minutes later.
Andres Guardado ran into trouble inside the Bilbao penalty area, but the ball broke to Adrian Alvarez on the right wing.
The 23-year-old striker took a touch, before firing a cross-come-shot across the face of goal that took a heavy deflection off Bilbao captain Carlos Gurpeggi on its way into the back of the net.
Both sides then hit the crossbar – through Fernando Llorente and Adrian - as the first half drew to a close with the score deservedly level.
Miguel Angel Lotina’s men returned from the break with renewed vigour, and were almost rewarded with the lead as Adrian fired a shot narrowly-wide in the 56th-minute and Riki forced a fine save from Aranzubia two minutes later.
Deportivo finally claimed the decisive second goal in the 71st minute, however, when Adrian’s teasing ball across the face of goal from the left channel was deflected into the back of the net by the desperately-lunging Xabier Castillo.
The victory moves Deportivo out of the relegation zone and into 14th place in the Liga table, but having played one more game than their rivals.
In Tuesday's other two Liga games, Malaga continued their impressive winning streak with a 2-0 victory over Sporting Gijon at the Rosaleda, while Racing Santander secured a vital 2-1 victory at home to Atletico Madrid.
Goals from the resurgent Julio Baptista and Eliseu gave Malaga their fifth consecutive victory in the league, whilst Kennedy Bakircioglu and Markus Rosenburg helped Racing come from behind to down Atleti after Mario Suarez's 11th-minute opener.