Cristiano Ronaldo warmed up in style for Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League showdown with former club Manchester United by claiming a hat-trick and an assist as Real Madrid crushed Sevilla 4-1 in La Liga on Saturday.
The Portuguese forward set up Karim Benzema to open the scoring from close range in the 18th minute at a festive Santiago Bernabeu.
Ronaldo doubled the home side’s lead with a powerful left-foot strike from the edge of the area eight minutes later and added his second in the 46th minute after a blunder in the Sevilla defense.
The 28-year-old completed his hat-trick in the 59th minute when he started and finished a swift break to chalk up the 21st treble of his career and his 17th in La Liga.
Ronaldo took his tally for the season to 24 league goals, 10 behind top scorer Lionel Messi of Barcelona.
“We have a phenomenon [in Ronaldo]. I cannot recall anything like it,” Real director and former player Emilio Butragueno told Canal Plus television.
Real forward Gonzalo Higuain was sent off midway through the second half for a second yellow card, but it did little to sour the party atmosphere ahead of United’s visit in a round-of-16 first-leg tie.
Ronaldo was substituted to a rousing ovation shortly before Higuain’s dismissal and Sevilla’s misery was compounded with 10 minutes left when Hedwiges Maduro picked up a second yellow.
Substitute Manu del Moral pulled a goal back for the Andalusians three minutes from time.
In the earlier kickoff, Isco followed up his debut for Spain last week with two goals to give Malaga a 2-1 comeback win at Levante UD that cemented their hold on fourth position.
The promising 20-year-old playmaker, a second-half substitute as the world champions beat Uruguay 3-1 on Wednesday last week, equalized with a penalty in the 36th minute and fired home a low shot for the winner a minute after halftime.
Jose Javier Barkero had put Levante ahead with a penalty in the 27th minute after a Martin Demichelis foul on Obafemi Martins.
The victory lifted Malaga back above fifth-placed Valencia.
Valencia’s Nelson Valdez came off the bench to snatch a last-gasp goal in a 1-0 win at RC Celta de Vigo that gave his side a boost before they host Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League tomorrow.
Celta held Ernesto Valverde’s team at bay until the third minute of stoppage-time when Joao Pereira floated a cross to the back post and Valdez, who had only been on the pitch a few minutes, nodded powerfully past Javi Varas.
The victory came at a cost, though, as Valencia lost Aly Cissokho when the fullback went over awkwardly on his ankle and had to be replaced toward the end of the first half.
RCD Mallorca’s new coach Gregorio Manzano, who replaced the sacked Joaquin Caparros last week, began his third stint at the Balearic Islands club with a 1-1 home draw against fellow strugglers CA Osasuna.
Osasuna midfielder Lolo headed in from a corner in the 77th minute, but Pedro Geromel equalized in stoppage-time to leave Mallorca second from bottom on 18 points.
RC Deportivo de La Coruna’s troubles mounted when they slumped to a 3-0 home defeat by Granada to remain bottom on 16 points.
Local media reported that disgruntled Depor fans had clashed with police outside the Riazor after the game.