CRISTIANO Ronaldo took his tally for the La Liga season to 13 goals in six appearances with his third hat-trick of the campaign as Real Madrid romped to a 5-0 win at home to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.
A rampant Ronaldo, who equalled the La Liga record of 22 hat-tricks jointly held by Alfredo Di StÃ©fano and Telmo Zarra, headed Real in front from Gareth Baleâ€™s lofted centre in the third minute at the BernabÃ©u.
Karim Benzema made it 2-0 four minutes before half-time when he headed home at a corner and Bale sped clear to set up Ronaldo for his second 10 minutes into the second half.
The Portuguese world player of the year unselfishly squared for Benzema to make it 4-0 in the 69th minute and Ronaldo completed his treble two minutes from time when the ball bounced off his body into the net.
Only a series of superb stops by Gorka Iraizoz in the Bilbao goal prevented further punishment for the struggling Basque side as Real provided more evidence they have put an early-season stumble firmly behind them.
â€œWe still have room for improvement,â€ Ronaldo, 29, clutching another match ball for his growing collection, said.
â€œThe team played a good match and scored five goals without conceding, we are very pleased,â€ he added .
The victory lifted Real above AtlÃ©tico Madrid into fourth place on 15 points following the championsâ€™ 3-1 defeat at Valencia on Saturday.
Barcelona lead on 19 points and became the first team to avoid conceding in their opening seven La Liga games thanks to Saturdayâ€™s 2-0 success at Rayo Vallecano.
Valencia are second on 17 points and Sevilla a point further back in third after they thrashed promoted Deportivo La Coruna 4-1 earlier on Sunday, helped by a brace from the Cameroon midfielder StÃ©phane Mbia.
Bilbao, without a win in seven matches in all competitions and beaten 2-1 at BATE Borisov in the Champions League on Tuesday, are 18th on four points.
Mbia opened the scoring for the Europa League champions Sevilla, who were beaten 4-0 at AtlÃ©tico last weekend, with a 24th-minute header before Haris Medunjanin levelled for Deportivo with a superb free-kick in the 31st minute.
Carlos Bacca, who had a second-half penalty saved, made it 2-1 six minutes before half-time, Mbia claimed his second in the 57th minute and Vitolo added Sevillaâ€™s fourth in the 63rd minute after a fine solo run by the excellent Gerard Deulofeu.
In Sundayâ€™s other games Villarreal won 3-1 at Celta Vigo and Espanyol beat visiting Real Sociedad 2-0. – The Guardian