Real restore four-point gap over Barca
Real Madrid restored their four-point advantage over Barcelona at the top of La Primera with a 4-1 victory over Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon.
Cristiano Ronaldo notched his seventh hat-trick of an incredible season as Jose Mourinho’s men made it 13 years since losing to their cross-city rivals, with substitute Jose Callejon getting the other.
After a frenetic opening to the game, during which Real looked uncharacteristically nervy, it was left to Ronaldo to set them on their way with a 25th minute free-kick that dipped and swerved to completely bamboozle Thibaut Courtois in the Atleti goal. Karim Benzema then went close for the visitors, his header going narrowly wide, and Ronaldo forced Courtois into a save, but moments of quality were few and far between for the rest of the half.
However, 10 minutes after the break Colombian hitman Radamel Falcao got Los Colchoneros back on level terms with his 29th goal of the season, heading home from Adrian Lopez’s cross. After that the game could have swung either way but it was Los Blancos who regained the advantage on 68 minutes, Ronaldo getting his second with a stunning shot from the left edge of the area that dipped over Courtois.
The former Manchester United man then rounded off his hat-trick with a penalty on 82 minutes after Diego Godin was penalised for a foolish challenge on Gonzalo Higuain, and Callejon sealed the points with a fourth five minutes later when he got free down the right and shot under Courtois’ body.
Ronaldo’s treble means he becomes only the third Real Madrid player to have scored a hat-trick at Atletico in the league, following Alfredo Di Stefano (1953-54) and Rubio (1929-30), and has now equalled his own 40- goal tally from last season. Even so, the Portuguese insists his only aim is to win the title.
“Records are there to be broken but that is not what I am looking for. I am looking to win the title for Madrid,” he commented afterwards. “I am trying very hard, along with my teammates, and at the end of the season we want to win La Liga and the Champions League, that is the objective.”
Atleti striker Falcao made it clear that it was the genius of Ronaldo that was the difference between the two sides.
“Cristiano scored his goals when we were having our best spell,” said Falcao. “We deserved more for the way we played but they were very strong.
“Although we are now quite far away from the Champions League place we will continue to fight while it is mathematically possible. But we are only thinking of Sunday’s game and after that we’ll see."