Once again, the spotlight shined brightly on Gonzalo Higuain for Real Madrid on Saturday. He scored his third hat trick in four matches against Real Betis to allow last year's La Liga runners-up to continue keeping pace with Barcelona for the 2011-12 title.
The Argentine's last hat trick came barely a week prior, as he fulfilled his international duties against Chile in a World Cup qualifying match over the break. Showing no signs of letting go of that form, Higuain's three goals at the Bernabeu over the weekend allowed him to surpass teammate Cristiano Ronaldo in league goals scored this season.
After a fairly quiet first half of action, Higuain started early in the second 45 minutes by tapping-in a relatively easy goal thanks to a skillful assist from Ronaldo in the first minute of play.
It was Ronaldo again, 13 minutes later, who found Kaka in the box to set up the second goal of the match. The Brazilian settled the pass, positioned himself for the shot and placed the ball flawlessly into the corner of the net.
In the 69th minute, Betis cut the lead in half. Jorge Molina's shot hit Marcelo, deflected off the Brazilian and into the back of the net to bring the score to 2-1. One minute later, Higuain made it 3-1 after he dummied the keeper and squeezed in his second goal of the night from a difficult angle.
Three minutes later, he put the final nail in Betis' coffin, racing after a through ball from Angel Di Maria and chipping the keeper at full-sprint to bring the score to 4-1, where it would remain until the final whistle.
The result allows Real Madrid to maintain their third-place position in the La Liga table, just one point behind Barcelona and Levante, who both won their fixtures over the weekend as well.