Ronaldo scores 3, Madrid rolls 5-0 over Bilbao
Madrid rose past Atletico Madrid into fourth place, four points behind leader Barcelona
Cristiano Ronaldo netted another hat trick to extend his scoring streak to eight consecutive games and lead Real Madrid to a 5-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish league on Sunday.
It was Ronaldo's second treble to go with one four-goal game already this season and gave the Ballon d'Or holder a league-leading 13 goals in six appearances, more than the entire team goal totals of 16 of the league's 20 sides. It was also his 22nd hat trick in the Spanish league, equaling the record held by Alfredo Di Stefano and Telmo Zarra.
Karim Benzema added two goals as Madrid's speedy forwards picked apart a Bilbao side that proved brittle at the back and is now winless in its last seven games.
Gareth Bale set up Ronaldo's goals in the third and 55th minutes. Benzema scored in the 41st and 69th, and Ronaldo completed his hat trick in the 88th.
"We are growing since the start of the season and we have margin to get even better," Ronaldo said, adding that he would add the game ball to the collection he keeps at his museum in Madeira, Portugal.
Madrid rose past Atletico Madrid into fourth place, four points behind leader Barcelona. Valencia is in second place in front of Sevilla in third after it beat visitors Deportivo La Coruna 4-1.
Also, Villarreal dealt Celta Vigo its first loss of the season with a 3-1 road win, while Espanyol downed Real Sociedad 2-0 at home in its most solid performance under new coach Sergio Gonzalez.
Since losing back-to-back games, Madrid has won six in a row in all competitions and outscored its opponents 27-5.
Bilbao arrived without injured striker Aduriz Aritz and with its morale down after its 2-1 defeat at BATE of Belarus on Tuesday in the Champions League.
Madrid jumped on its struggling visitors early with an electric start.
Bale found Ronaldo at the far post to head in the opener under goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz, and Benzema rose above his marker to nod in a corner kick to put Madrid in control by halftime.
Bilbao hasn't won at the Santiago Bernabeu since 2005, during Ernesto Valverde's first stint as coach. And once again, Bilbao's attacking strategy and high defensive line gave Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema plenty of room to romp.
Bale streaked down the right side before squaring for the unmarked Ronaldo to make it 3-0. Then it was Ronaldo's turn to beat Bilbao's offside trap and generously lay off for Benzema to get his second goal.
Ronaldo called Benzema the "best striker in the league" and applauded Bale's contribution.
"We are used to playing together and we link up very well," Ronaldo said.
It could have been much worse for Bilbao. Iraizoz made eight saves and a pair of one-handed stops to deny Ronaldo and Bale before the final whistle.
But Iraizoz could do nothing but watch when Pepe's off-target shot hit Ronaldo's arm pressed against his flank and bounce into the net to cap the demolition.
Bilbao is barely recognizable from the potent side that finished fourth last season and eliminated Napoli to qualify for the Champions League group phase at the start of this campaign.
"My team is down but we are convinced we can turn this around," said Valverde. "We are in a tough emotional situation. We have to rediscover what made us strong."
Sevilla eased to the win over Deportivo thanks to Stephane M'Bia's double and goals by Carlos Bacca and Victor "Vitolo" Machin.
Sevilla could have won by an even wider margin. Benoit Tremoulinas hit the crossbar in the 33rd, and Deportivo goalkeeper German Lux made amends for fouling Bacca in the area by saving his penalty kick in the 68th.
Deportivo's fourth straight loss left it in last place with one win through seven rounds since its return to the top flight.
Villarreal had never won in eight previous visits to Balaidos Stadium, and Celta made the better start until Moi Gomez scored back-to-back goals in the 32nd and 33rd.
Joaquin Larrivey pulled one back for Celta in the 44th, but Celta played the final four minutes with 10 men after defender Andreu Fontas received his second booking.
Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo still had to save Larrivey's header in the 88th to protect the win that Mario Perez capped with a goal on the break in stoppage time.
Espanyol forward Lucas Vazquez scored in the sixth minute and Christian Stuani added another goal in injury time.
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