CRISTIANO Ronaldo (pic) scored a record-breaking 23rd Primera DivisiÃ³n hat-trick while Real Madrid equalled the Spanish record of 18 successive victories after beating Celta Vigo 3-0 on a memorable night at the BernabÃ©u.
Ronaldo opened the scoring with a controversially-awarded penalty that he won himself in the 36th minute before netting twice more in the second half as he moved on to 200 La Liga goals for Madrid â€“ having joined the Spanish giants only in 2009.
The Portugal superstarâ€™s treble saw him go clear of Telmo Zarra and Alfredo di StÃ©fano for the most Primera DivisiÃ³n hat-tricks, while also taking him to 23 goals in just 14 league games this season. The victory also took Madrid a step closer to another berth in the record books. Having last weekend broken their club record of 16 successive wins, the European champions have now equalled the all-time record by a Spanish team of 18 successive victories, set by Frank Rijkaardâ€™s Barcelona side in 2005 and 2006.
Madrid will now be expected to claim that record outright on Tuesday when they host Ludogorets â€“ who prop up Group B â€“ in the Champions League.
It has been a phenomenal run of results from Carlo Ancelottiâ€™s men, who started the season with two defeats in their opening three league games having already lost the Spanish Supercopa to AtlÃ©tico Madrid, and Ronaldo has been central to that success.
He had scored nine goals in his previous five matches against Celta and it was no surprise to see the world player of the year back on the scoresheet again on Saturday.
Celta will be far from impressed by his opening goal though, with the former Manchester United man going to ground under the slightest touch by Jonny Castro as he looked to get on the end of Marceloâ€™s lofted pass â€“ with the initial contact at least also looking as if it took place outside the area. The penalty was awarded, though, and 29-year-old Ronaldo stepped up to send the goalkeeper Sergio Ãlvarez the wrong way from 12 yards.
Madrid were not finding Celta easy opponents to break down, but Ãlvarez was still much the busier of the keepers as he produced saves to deny Ronaldo and James RodrÃguez in the first half before pushing over Gareth Baleâ€™s piledriver just after the hour.
Ãlvarez was left with little chance to save soon afterwards, however, as the ball rebounded nicely inside the area for Ronaldo to smash a right-footed shot past the Celta keeper and make it 2-0.
Bale went close again with a flicked header that did not quite have enough height to beat Ãlvarez as Madrid sought a third but Celta also kept the home defence on their toes with the occasional foray forward, with one Nolito free-kick almost catching out Iker Casillas.
The night undoubtedly belonged to Ronaldo, though, and the Â£80m man completed yet another hat-trick â€“ while also securing himself a fresh place in the record books â€“ when he slotted home at the far post nine minutes from time.
Madridâ€™s win keeps them four points ahead of the reigning champions, their neighbours AtlÃ©tico, who won 2-0 at Elche earlier in the day, although Barcelona could move back to within two points of the leaders if they beat derby rivals Espanyol on Sunday. – The Guardian