MADRID - Cristiano Ronaldo broke his
four-game scoring drought with a hat-trick as Real Madrid
trounced lowly Malaga 7-0 in La Liga on Thursday to trim the gap
with leaders Barcelona back to seven points.
The Portuguese forward's uncharacteristic barren patch ended
when he netted Real's fourth in the 51st minute at the Bernabeu
after goals from Karim Benzema, Angel Di Maria and Marcelo had
put Jose Mourinho's side 3-0 ahead at the break.
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France striker Benzema added a fifth in the 62nd and Ronaldo
blasted the ball home from the penalty spot in the 68th after
defender Manolo Gaspar had been shown a second yellow card for
handling in the area.
Ronaldo completed his treble with just over 10 minutes left
before leaving the pitch to a rapturous ovation from the fans
despite the fact Mourinho had already made three substitutions
and Real had to play the rest of the match with 10 men.
The club said in a statement Ronaldo had a felt muscle
tightness in his left leg and the player told reporters he may
not be available for Sunday's match at Racing Santander.
"I did it when I scored the third goal but I am sure it's
nothing special," Ronaldo said. "It's better not to take risks.
I don't think I'll be available for Sunday's match."
Malaga were reduced to nine a few minutes earlier when Cala
was carried off on a stretcher with what looked like a serious
ankle injury and the visitors had also used all three subs.
Ronaldo's hat-trick put him level on 27 goals at the top of
the La Liga scoring chart with Argentina forward Lionel Messi,
who fired Barcelona to a 1-0 win at Valencia on Wednesday.
Barca, whose victory set a La Liga record of 20 matches
undefeated away from home, have 71 points from 26 matches, Real
have 64 and third-placed Valencia have 51.
Real's biggest league win of the season made it a
humiliating night for Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini, who was
returning to the Bernabeu for the first time since he was sacked
and replaced by Mourinho at the end of last season.
Pellegrini told a news conference he had rested some players
with an eye on Sunday's match at home to fellow strugglers
"With six injured players we couldn't expect a good result,"
the Chilean said. "We would have liked to have played a normal
game here with a full squad. Nobody likes losing like this."
Mourinho angered Malaga fans and officials on Wednesday when
he said if Real sacked him he would never coach the Andalusian
club but instead would go to "a big club in England or Italy",
remarks that were interpreted as a jibe at his predecessor.
Pellegrini shook hands with Mourinho before Thursday's match
but said he had not spoken with him.
At a later news conference, Mourinho said he had nothing
against the city of Malaga, the club or anyone who worked there
but stopped short of apologising.
"The truth is I responded as I always do without hypocrisy,"
he said. "In a hypocritical world it's a problem not being
hypocritical. If I have to apologise it's not a problem for me."
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