Real Madrid closed the gap on Barcelona in La Liga to just three points with a rampant victory over Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Following their draw with Juventus in the Champions League on Tuesday night that saw them qualify for the next stage of the tournament, the attention switched back to hunting down the Catalans in the league.
In a near capacity Bernabeu, Madrid ran riot against fellow Champions League outfit Sociedad, who were notably missing former Madrid midfielder Esteban Granero in the centre of the park.
After a quiet opening 10 minutes in which both sides saw plenty of possession, Madrid suddenly sparked into life when Cristiano Ronaldo crashed a long -range effort off the bar. The Portuguese didn’t take long to find the back of the net though, as just two minutes later he had put Carlo Ancelotti’s men 1-0 up. A superb Xabi Alonso pass fell at the feet of Karim Benzema, and the Frenchman dinked a ball over the top of the defence for Ronaldo to fire home from the right hand side of the area.
Los Blancos were 2-0 within 20 minutes when scorer turned provider, as Ronaldo laid on a pass for Benzema to sidefoot home past a helpless Bravo in the Sociedad goal.
It was 3-0 shortly afterwards when the outstanding Luka Modric sent Ronaldo racing free down the left hand side. His shot was adjudged to have been handled by Markel Bergara. Up stepped Ronaldo to dispatch his 15th goal in La Liga already this season.
The San Sebastian side had no real answer to the onslaught – their only outlay was Carlos Vela who tried to use his pace to exploit the Madrid defence. But the one time he did race through, Pepe hauled him down, and picked up a booking for his efforts.
Eight minutes before the break, Los Blancos had a 4-0 lead, when Gareth Bale set up Sami Khedira to smash the ball home from close range. Although no more goals were added before the interval, Madrid could have had more – Ronaldo went close with a header, as did Welshman Bale.
The visitors made a double change at the break as they had nothing but pride to play for. Former Arsenal player Vela curled an effort wide as Sociedad looked for a consolation. They could, and should have had a penalty when Diego Lopez felled Griezmann in the area. Interestingly, as the referee was running over to award a spot kick, he saw the linesman wave play on and decided not to give it.
On the hour mark they did get the goal they were looking for to give their travelling fans some cheer. Vela sent a ball between Pepe and Varane, and Griezmann raced free to lob Diego Lopez in the Madrid goal. The pair combined again five minutes later but this time Griezmann sent his effort inches wide.
With Madrid having taken their foot off the pedal, Ancelotti sent Asier Illarramendi on in place of Xabi Alonso, to add some fresh legs to the Madrid midfield. Chances for the home side were few and far between – Modric fired at goal and Ronaldo sent a curling effort just wide.
With 15 minutes left on the clock the home side were awarded a freekick 25 yards out. Ronaldo stepped up to score his hat trick, and 16th goal of a remarkable season to date.
In the closing stages there were more chances for both sides as Vela went close for Sociedad, forcing Lopez into a superb stop, while at the other end Alvaro Morata, on for Benzema, missed from 6 yards with the goal gaping. In the end it stayed as it was, and Madrid claimed the three points and emphatic win.