Real Madrid romped to victory in La Liga on Sunday night, defeating Espanyol 6-0 as Cristiano Ronaldo got back to his goalscoring ways with a hat-trick at the Bernabeu.
The Portugal icon scored twice in the first half—including a world-class effort on the stroke of half-time—and Karim Benzema, James Rodriquez and an Oscar Duarte own goal completed the scoreline as Los Blancos destroyed their opponents.
It was the perfect night for Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane as he watched his alpha males put in a magnificent effort.
James deputised for the missing Gareth Bale in Zidane's starting XI and made sure the Galacticos did not miss the lethal Welshman.
Real were out of the blocks quickly, as Benzema headed a lead after seven minutes. The Frenchman rose first to James' perfect cross, directing his effort beyond Espanyol goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis.
Madrid netted a second goal just five minutes later as Ronaldo was fouled in the box. The attacker picked himself up to take the resulting penalty, coolly slotting past Arlauskis.
Within the blink of an eye, it was 3-0, as James joined his venomous attacking team-mates on the scoresheet.
The Colombian superstar picked up the ball on the edge of the area, and his long-range effort took a huge deflection off Pape Diop, spinning wide of the helpless goalkeeper as Espanyol's luck suffered.
Madrid's attack appeared to be playing with Espanyol's defence, as they dominated and pulverised their opponents with a ruthless edge.
The wondrous half of pure quality was brought to a close by Ronaldo, who scored one of his most memorable goals in recent memory.
The superstar danced his way through the Espanyol back line, humbling the defenders as he advanced, and he riffled in his shot into the top corner as the Bernabeu rose to its feet in wonder and awe.
Ronaldo's second strike was shared on social media:
Ronaldo showing no respect for the opposition and ending their careers early. https://t.co/Ri9vjxisrb2016-1-31 20:55:33
ESPN's Dermot Corrigan tipped his hat to the player's effort:
Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan
Not seen Ronaldo score a goal like that for a couple of years... really unstoppable...2016-1-31 20:16:23
WhoScored.com highlighted the vital statistics at half-time and showed the influence James had on the proceedings:
Real Madrid 4-0 Espanyol HT: Shots(OT) 12(5) - 5(1), Possession 69% - 31%, Rating 7.57 - 6.58 https://t.co/jzSz7z1veb2016-1-31 20:19:26
James Rodríguez first half vs Espanyol: Rating - 9.20 Shots(OT) - 3(1) Goals - 1 Key passes - 4 Assists - 1 https://t.co/IlFZmT9CxL2016-1-31 20:25:51
Madrid were in a more sombre mood after the break, as the pace evaporated from their game, strolling through the second half.
Real continued the procession as they allowed the visitors a chance to have the ball, but the match now felt like a training exercise for Zidane's defence.
Espanyol created several half-chances, but Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas was equal to every effort thrown at him.
Ronaldo completed his hat-trick eight minutes from time, nodding home at the far post for the easiest of finishes.
Substitute Jese Rodriguez chipped the ball into the area as he looked up to see Ronaldo, and the attacker made no mistake to score his third of the night.
Jese then created a sixth for Real as he sprinted down the left, as his rapid cross was turned into his own net by new signing Duarte.
It was a simple day at the office, as Espanyol offered nothing in return in the Spanish capital, and 6-0 was reflective of Madrid's dominance on Sunday.
Ronaldo was at his world-class best, proving he still has the ability and engine to match anything Bale can do in a Galacticos shirt.
Zidane was delighted with his side's work on Sunday night, and said he has high hopes for the Galacticos as the La Liga title race takes shape, commenting about the current efforts behind the scenes—as quoted by football writer Sid Lowe:
Sid Lowe @sidlowe
Zidane: "The league is not over".2016-1-31 21:54:48
Sid Lowe @sidlowe
Zidane: we're using time in midweek to work and you can see (the benefits of) that2016-1-31 21:58:59