Callejon, Karanka lead praise for Ronaldo
Real Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka hailed a "spectacular" performance from Cristiano Ronaldo after the Portugal international's hat-trick against derby rivals Atletico helped ease some of the pressure on the stuttering title hopefuls.
The heat was on Real heading into their trip to the Vicente Calderon after seeing their ten-point lead over nearest challengers Barcelona whittled down to just one over the last few weeks.
However, Jose Mourinho's men responded in style as they put aside the dropped points against Malaga, Villarreal and Valencia in their last five games with a thumping 4-1 victory.
Ronaldo led the way with three of his side's goals, two stunning long-range strikes and a penalty, before setting up substitute Jose Callejon to net Real's fourth late on. Radamel Falcao had scored a 55th-minute equaliser for Atletico, but Ronaldo ensured Los Rojiblancos' hunt for a first win over Real in over 12 years continued.
Karanka, who took the post-match press conference in place of Mourinho, led the plaudits for the world's most expensive player, although he was quick to point out it was no one-man show.
"Cristiano had a spectacular game, but everybody has contributed," he said. "The entire team's performance was spectacular and when the game became tougher after the equaliser, and the crowd pressurised most, everyone pulled through, not just Cristiano."
Ronaldo's team-mates also heaped praise on the former Manchester United man, with Callejon saying: "For me Cristiano is the best player in the world, he does things that nobody else can."
Defender Sergio Ramos added on the club's website: "He's the best player in the world. We are lucky to be able to train with him every day and to have him with us."
Ronaldo's hat-trick was his seventh of the season and took his record in all competitions this campaign to 52. The treble also took his league tally to 40, equalling the mark that won him the European Golden Shoe last season and with six games still left this term.
Ronaldo wants titles not records
Ronaldo insists he is not thinking about individual achievements, though, and has his sights set on helping Real win their first La Liga title since 2008.
To that end, Ronaldo believes the 21 April showdown with Barça at the Camp Nou could prove decisive. He was quoted as saying by Marca: "I'm not looking for records, but titles for Real Madrid.
"We still cannot think that we have won the league, but if we win at the Nou Camp we will be very close. Losing does not exist in my vocabulary."
He added about last night's victory on the club's website: "We were a little tense because Barcelona won [on Tuesday] and we were forced to win, so mission accomplished. The team is in good form, confident and ready for its next game."