Cristiano Ronaldo fired a hat-trick as Real Madrid’s attack again sizzled to thump Real Sociedad 5-1 at the Bernabeu. The game was not in doubt by half time, with Ronaldo striking twice, while in between laying one on for Karim Benema, before Sami Khedira hammered home. Antoine Griezmann continued his fine form in front of goal to pull one back for Sociedad after the break, but Ronaldo restored Madrid’s four-goal lead with 14 minutes remaining.
The result means that Madrid have now scored an extraordinary 17 goals in four matches since the inception of the forward trio of Ronaldo, Benzema, and Gareth Bale. Having held Manchester United to a goalless draw in midweek, Sociedad will have been hoping to do similar at the Bernabeu. But Jagoba Arrasate’s side would quickly discover that Madrid pose a far more difficult proposition.
In just the 12th minute, Benzema produced an in-swinging cross from the left that found Ronaldo at the back post, who had been poorly played onside by a Sociedad defender, and the in-form Portuguese star took a touch before lashing it across Claudio Bravo and into the far side of the net.
Six minutes later the lead was doubled. Ronaldo attracted attention as he went down the left of the area before laying it back for an unmarked Benzema to expertly side-foot first time into the net from 15 yards. The third goal arrived in the 26th minutes and this time it was harsh on the visitors from San Sebastian. Again running down the left before looking to turn the ball across, Ronaldo’s cross clearly came off the right arm of Markel Bergara but, with the midfielder falling to the ground and using the arm for balance, it was a dubious decision to award the spot kick. Still, Ronaldo stepped up and struck the penalty straight down the middle.
There was no doubt about the validity of Madrid’s fourth goal. An incisive attack saw Daniel Carvajal play the ball inside to Bale, who helped it on first-time for Khedira in the box and the German midfielder took a touch before smashing it past Bravo.
While it was an impressive display by Carlo Ancelotti’s side, there was still a reminder of the defensive problems that have meant the flood of Madrid goals in recent games being accompanied by far too many being conceded at the other end. Just past the hour mark, Carlos Vela’s through ball poorly caught out both of Madrid’s center-backs -- Raphael Varane and Pepe -- and Griezmann produced a cool finish over the advancing Diego Lopez.
But Madrid and Ronaldo would have the last word. From a free-kick 20 yards out to the left of center, Ronaldo stepped up with his familiar free-kick and got the ball up and down to leave Bravo motionaless as it flew into the net for his 21st goal of the season.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.