Cristiano Ronaldo scored four as Real Madrid thumped Celta Vigo 7-1 in La Liga on Saturday, keeping their slim title hopes alive in the process.
Pepe scored the opener with a header on the stroke of half-time before two stunning Ronaldo goals made it 3-0. Aspas pulled one back for the visitors, but Ronaldo still scored two more as Madrid bagged six goals in 31 second half minutes.
The big pre-match team news was the return of Gareth Bale to the Madrid bench. The Welshman had been out of action for his side’s last eight games with a calf strain. Boss Zidane also kept the faith with young 18-year-old striker Borja Mayoral.
Interestingly, the Celta Vigo side featured ex-Liverpool striker Iago Aspas, who had already scored nine league goals before today.
Real predictably dominated possession in the early exchanges; Ronaldo was causing havoc for Celta’s defence and Isco had a penalty appeal turned down.
Celta Vigo slowly started to show why they were up as high as sixth in the La Liga table as Aspas hit the bar with a header. Unfortunately for him, he could only fire the rebound straight at Keylor Navas.
Madrid eventually found the breakthrough on the stroke of half-time. Pepe, who had just seen a header saved by Ruben Blanco moments earlier, was on hand to power in Isco’s corner and ease some of the home fans’ jitters.
Moments after half-time, Madrid doubled their lead through Ronaldo.
He has faced serious criticisms in recent weeks but his goal was stunning, smashing it in from 30 yards.
Five minutes later it was 3-0. Ronaldo was again the scorer, this time bending a beautiful free kick.
Aspas pulled one back for Celta Vigo with a neat finish, but any hope of comeback were quickly eradicated as Ronaldo completed his hat-trick with a simple tap in from an Isco pass
That goal opened the floodgates as Celta conceded three more in a five-minute spell.
Ronaldo added his fourth of the night in the 76th minute with a header, Jesse slid in to make it 6-1 in the 78th minute, and Gareth Bale made a goalscoring return by crashing a well-placed shot in off the post in the 81st minute.
The result moves Madrid onto 60 points – still nine behind leaders Barcelona and having played a game more. Celta Vigo stay sixth on 42 points.
Next up for Real Madrid is a home game against Roma in the Champions League. They are back in league action next Sunday when they travel to Las Palmas.
Celta Vigo play next Saturday when they host Real Sociedad.