Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick to ensure Real Madrid are back to winning ways after whacking a visiting Espanyol side 6 – 0 in the La Liga clash staged at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday 31 January. The win, coming in the wake of the disappointing 1 – 1 draw with Real Betis the last time out was widely expected.
Real Madrid took the lead early and it was that man Karim Benzema again, scoring for his fourth straight game under French manager Zinedine Zidane. Benzema rose highest to head in James Rodriguez’s cross into the bottom corner as the visitors wobbled.
It did not take too long before Real Madrid doubled as another poor piece of defending saw Enzo Roco foul Cristiano Ronaldo in the box and the Portuguese forward stepped forth to send the resulting penalty home for an 11th minute goal.
If Espanyol thought the rout was over, they were very wrong as on the 16th minute, Colombian forward James Rodriguez got space and with a shot that deflected off Papakouli Diop to the back of the net.
Espanyol managed to hold on for 30 minutes heading to the break and Salva Sevilla should have pulled one back when he raced through but Real keeper Kaylor Navas made a big save.
From the ensuing attack, Ronaldo got his second of the night with wonderful feet to evade two defenders, before smashing one into the far corner.
Espanyol were a bit better in the second half with some good defensive display but still couldn’t stop Ronaldo who sneaked in on the 82nd minute to head home Jese’s cross from a quick throw in, to make it three goals on the night.
A woeful night for the Catalans was completed by an Oscar Duarte own goal on the 86th minute, turning home a Jese cross.
The win sees Real Madrid close in to within a point of rivals Atletico Madrid who are second on 48 points and four points behind league leaders Barcelona who are on 51 points.