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Soccer

Ronaldo hat-trick as Zidane keeps it Real

Soccer

Cristiano Ronaldo has scored a hat-trick to help Real Madrid crush Espanyol 6-0 and stay in touch with Barcelona at the top of La Liga.

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Madrid bounced back from their 1-1 draw at Real Betis last weekend with another dominant display in coach Zinedine Zidane’s third game in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu, where he won his first two matches 5-0 and 5-1.

Goals by Karim Benzema and James Rodriguez on either side of a penalty earned and converted by Ronaldo had Madrid 3-0 ahead by only the 16th minute.

Ronaldo went on a spectacular dribble to ditch two defenders before blasting in the fourth before halftime. He completed his treble late before Oscar Duarte scored on own goal in his debut.

“The team is working well, in a few weeks Zizou (Zidane) has done a phenomenal job,” Ronaldo said.

“That’s why we are getting these results.”

In third place, Madrid closed to one point behind Atletico Madrid after they lost 2-1 at Barcelona on Saturday.

Barcelona have a game in hand and sit four points ahead of Madrid.

“We can’t think about Barcelona and Atletico,” Ronaldo said.

“They are playing well, but we have to keep working because there is a long way to go.”

The Portugal forward has drawn level with Barcelona’s Luis Suarez as the competition’s leading scorers with 19.

Elsewhere, Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan again started for Valencia who lost their first league home match since November 2014 after Sporting Gijon claimed a 1-0 victory at Mestalla Stadium to climb out of the relegation zone.

Kevin Gameiro led Sevilla to a 3-1 win over bottom-side Levante, while Las Palmas got a 90th-minute goal to edge 10-man Celta Vigo 2-1 to also escape the bottom three.

-AP

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