Ronaldo treble eases Real past Malaga
Cristiano Ronaldo struck a first-half hat-trick - his third La Liga treble of the season - as Real Madrid romped to a 4-0 victory over Malaga at La Rosaleda.
Ronaldo had not scored in his previous three Real Madrid matches, but he brought that mini-drought to an end in style, scoring in the 23rd, 28th and 38th minutes to take his tally up to ten in La Liga so far this season.
Gonzalo Higuain also continued his recent goalscoring form with Real's opener as Jose Mourinho's side made it six wins on the trot in all competitions, during which run they have scored 25 times.
For big-spending Malaga, the defeat shows they still have some way to go in their bid to challenge the big guns in La Liga, with today's loss being their second in succession and third in eight games this term.
Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini can take some solace from his side's impressive second-half performance, when they were unlucky not to net at least once, striking the woodwork twice and also bringing a number of good saves out of Iker Casillas.
Both sides had penalty shouts turned down early on, Ronaldo for Real and then Joaquin Sanchez for Malaga, before the visitors took the lead in the 11th minute through Higuain.
Angel Di Maria's through ball on the edge of the area picked out the run of his Argentinian compatriot and, as the Malaga defence appealed in vain for offside against any of three Real players, Higuain skipped past home goalkeeper Ruben Martinez before slotting in from a tight angle.
Malaga almost snatched an equaliser nine minutes later when Antonio Apono's curling free-kick brought a diving stop from Casillas, but then Ronaldo took centre-stage to put the game out of the home side's reach before half-time with three goals in 15 minutes.
Ronaldo scores a hat-trick
Di Maria was the provider again for Madrid's second goal with his cross from the right inch-perfect for Ronaldo, who stole in between two Malaga defenders to side-foot a volley past Martinez. Ronaldo made it 3-0 just five minutes later, picking up a pass 25 yards out, easily skipping past Martin Demichelis and then drilling a low shot across Martinez into the far bottom corner.
The £80 million man, who struck seven hat-tricks last term, then completed yet another treble following some more slack defending. Di Maria's deep corner was headed back into the six-yard box by Sergio Ramos where the unmarked Ronaldo acrobatically flicked the ball into the net with his heel.
At that stage, with the match over as a contest, it only looked a question of how many Real would score and it should have been 5-0 five minutes into the second half when Higuain was presented with a clear chance by Kaka. However, Higuain, scorer of three hat-tricks in his previous four starts for club and country, fired wide with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Despite the half-time scoreline though, Malaga refused to give up and they created a host of chances in the second period. Just before Higuain's miss they struck the crossbar when Alarcon Isco's 25-yard free-kick came back off the woodwork, before Apono, Eliseu Pereira and Jose Salomon Rondon were all denied by Casillas and Martin Demichelis glanced a header wide from close range.
Sebastian Fernandez then became the second Malaga player to hit the bar, while Isco and Fernandez both drew saves from Casillas late on as Malaga were just unable to get on the scoresheet.