A quintet of goals from Cristiano Ronaldo pushed Real Madrid back to within one point of Barcelona at the top of the La Liga standings, as Los Blancos ran riot against Granada to notch a remarkable 9-1 victory.
Two from Karim Benzema, an opener from Gareth Bale and an own goal from Diego Mainz made up the rest of the goal haul, but it was the Portuguese sensation who naturally stole the show, as he sizzled before a Santiago Bernabeu stadium splendidly bathed in the early afternoon Madrid sunshine.
Here’s a look at his five goals:
WhoScored.com provided a succinct statistical summary of the forward’s immaculate afternoon:
In terms of individual feats, the five goals scored by Ronaldo pushed him well clear of his Blaugrana rival Lionel Messi in the race to be named the top scorer in La Liga. Here’s a look at how that particular race is hotting up, as noted by Squawka Football:
It was certainly a treat for all those tuning in for some entertaining Spanish football to kick-start Easter Sunday, and although the match was even in the opening stages, a goal from Bale broke Granada’s resistance and galvanised the hosts—none more so than the former Manchester United man.
After the opener, Ronaldo tore into the La Liga strugglers from his roaming role out on the left flank. His first came on the half-hour mark, and eight minutes later he had his hat-trick, as the visitors were completely obliterated by the pace and penetration of the Los Blancos attacking triumvirate.
As noted by Coral, Ronaldo had notched his trio of goals before a lot of people would have even made it out of bed!:
Predictably, with the game being played on Easter Sunday, it wasn’t long before the topical gags were being trotted out, per Dermot Corrigan of ESPN:
Most sides would typically sit back with the score at 4-0 at half-time, but sensing an opportunity to bolster their goal difference and send a message to Barcelona, Real were relentless in their forays forward; Ronaldo was insatiable in his desire for goals.
His fourth came in the 54th minute just two minutes after Benzema had made it 5-0, and the Frenchman added another not long after. As noted by Piers Morgan, with the score now at 7-0, things were getting rather ridiculous:
Granada did get one back, but a horrendous own goal from Mainz seemed likely to cap off their embarrassment. But in the penultimate minute, Ronaldo rose highest in the box to head home his fifth and, staggeringly, Real’s ninth of this hopelessly lopsided encounter.
As you might expect, it was an effort that saw Ronaldo topple a few landmarks, per BBC Sporf:
It means that despite suffering something of a lull in form since the turn of the year, the Portuguese is now the top individual scorer in European football again. WhoScored.com put his stratospheric goalscoring feats into sharp context:
As magnificent an individual performance as this was, the connotations of such an emphatic win could be huge for Real. After the disappointing loss to Barcelona in the Clasico, they have a massive fight on their hands if they’re going to land the Spanish title, but with some key players back and others rediscovering their form, they’ll preserve plenty of hope.
Manager Carlo Ancelotti was quick to praise not only Cristiano, but the collective as well:
Barcelona have the chance to regain their four-point lead atop of the table later on in the day when they face Celta Vigo. Bleacher Report’s Karl Matchett wondered whether Ronaldo’s feats may prompt something special in response from Messi:
While Ronaldo hasn’t been at his sparkling best during 2015, he’s still been among the goals and making vital contributions for his side. Despite this contest being over pretty early on, the 30-year-old was irrepressible in his willingness to get into dangerous positions and play himself back into the kind of groove that made him so dangerous throughout the early stages of the campaign.
It’s the kind of performance that’ll ring out an emphatic reminder that despite the criticism received recently, Ronaldo and Real still have much to play for this season. But ever the perfectionist, you suspect the Portuguese superstar will have walked off the pitch ruing the chances spurned to have bagged even more goals.