Cristiano Ronaldo hit a hat-trick as Real Madrid thrashed bottom club Athletic Bilbao 5-0 in La Liga to go four points behind early leaders Barcelona.
After a couple of shaky results early on in the season, notably shock La Liga defeats against Real Sociedad and local rivals Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid now seem to be well into their side under Carlo Ancelotti after picking up another thumping win, this time against shock strugglers Athletic Club.
Real were firm favourites for the clash against a team whose return to the Champions League has been met by a collapse in domestic fortunes, with Athletic sitting bottom of the table despite the presence of exciting young players including Iker Muniain and Aymeric Laporte.
In front of an expectant Bernabeu crowd, Real went from the jugular from the off, taking the lead when Cristiano Ronaldo continued his stunning goalscoring form to head home a fine Gareth Bale cross, from the Welshman’s weaker right foot no less:
For the next 40 minutes or so, Athletic managed to regain some semblance of a shape, with young Laporte helping to keep the defence together until they were undone from a slack piece of marking at a corner, Karim Benzema heading in Luka Modric’s delivery to all-but wrap up the three points:
Whilst Athletic did manage to get through the four minutes until the break, their resistance was completely extinguished ten minutes after the break when Ronaldo scored yet again, this time tapping home after the difficult work was done by the exceptional Bale:
Ronaldo gave up the goalscoring duties for a moment to assist the fourth goal for Benzema, who is also in good form after a slow start to the season, before notching up his hat-trick goal, although the ball did appear to come off his elbow and Real were slightly fortunate that it was allowed to stand:
Not that the fifth goal had any impact on the overall result, with Real cruising to a sixth straight victory in all competitions and piling the pressure on early pace setters Barcelona and Valencia.