Madrid, Spain – Cristiano Ronaldo bounced back from a disappointing outing last time out to inspire Real Madrid in the club's convincing 4-1 victory over Sevilla at the Bernabeu on Saturday.
The Portuguese superstar was on the wrong side of the score sheet last Saturday when his own goal saw Granada claim a 1-0 win over Real, but he rebounded with a hat trick on Saturday to leave his club in good stead for its Champions League date with Manchester United on Wednesday.
Real Madrid jumped in front in the 18th minute as Karim Benzema was the beneficiary of some poor defensive play from Sevilla. The Frenchman was arriving at the center of the six-yard box and tucked home a failed clearance from extremely close range.
Ronaldo doubled the advantage eight minutes later when he beat one defender with a quick stepover and unleashed a cracking shot that beat Beto to the far post.
It became a three-goal lead less than a minute into the second half when Ronaldo curled a shot into the far lower corner before the former Manchester United man completed his hat trick just before the hour mark by capping a neat counter attack with a close-range finish.
The match turned slightly sour in the 66th minute when Gonzalo Higuain was issued a second yellow card, but Sevilla was reduced to 10 men with 11 minutes to go following Hedwiges Maduro's sending off.
Sevilla managed to pulled back a consolation goal four minutes from time when Manu cruised into the penalty area a slipped a shot between the legs of Sergio Ramos and into the far side of the net.
The result sees Real Madrid improve to 46 points on the season to move to within 13 points of first-place Barcelona.
Sevilla's two-game winning run in La Liga action comes to a halt as the club remains on 29 points.
Malaga 2, Levante 1
Valencia, Spain - Isco proved to be the difference in Saturday's match at the Ciutat de Valencia as his brace helped Malaga claim a 2-1 win over Levante.
The visitors fell behind when Jose Barkero converted a penalty kick in the 27th minute, but they answered with Isco scoring from the spot in the 36th minute before he doubled his tally one minute into the second period.
The win sees Malaga retain fourth place in Spain's top flight as the club improves to 39 points on the season.
Levante's two straight losses leave the club on 33 points.
Valencia 1, Celta Vigo 0
Vigo, Spain - Nelson Haedo Valdez scored at the death to see Valencia escape from the Estadio Municipal de Balaidos with a 1-0 win over Celta Vigo on Saturday.
The two sides appeared to be heading for a scoreless draw, but Valdez struck in the third minute of stoppage time to see his side climb to fifth place with 37 points.
Celta Vigo, winless in its last five league outings, remains third from bottom in La Liga with 20 points.
Granada 3, Deportivo 0
Madrid, Spain - Granada built upon its defeat of Real Madrid last week by cruising to a 3-0 victory over Deportivo at the Riazor on Saturday.
Carlos Marchena gifted the visitors the lead with an own goal just before the break while Odion Ighalo doubled Granada's advantage shortly after the restart.
Deportivo was reduced to 10 men when Manuel Pablo was sent off in the fourth minute of added time for denying a scoring opportunity in the box, and Guillherme Siqueira converted the ensuing penalty to add insult to injury for the home side.
Granada has won three of its last four La Liga matches to climb to 26 points on the season, 10 points better than Deportivo, which has lost four in a row.
Mallorca 1, Osasuna 1
Mallorca, Spain - Mallorca earned a dramatic point at home on Saturday as Pedro Tunon Geromel scored late on in the club's 1-1 draw with Osasuna at the Iberostar Stadium.
Lolo's goal in the 77th minute had given Osasuna hopes of taking all three points, but Geromel popped up with the equalizer in the second minute of added time.
The result does not do either side many favors in their battle against relegation. They remain separated by four points as Mallorca remains second from bottom on 18 points while Osasuna sits one spot above the drop zone.