MADRID, Spain (AFP) — Cristiano Ronaldo hit a hat-trick as Real Madrid kept on the trail of leaders Barcelona with a 5-1 rout of Deportivo La Coruna yesterday.
The visitors took a shock lead after 15 minutes through Riki but Madrid quickly bounced back with Ronaldo hitting his first from the penalty spot after Angel Di Maria was felled.
It was Di Maria himself who put his team ahead and then Ronaldo got his second shortly before the break.
With Madrid controlling the game Pepe headed home and Ronaldo scored another penalty in the second half to complete the rout and remain eight points behind Barcelona who beat Sevilla 3-2 on Saturday.
While Barca have won all six of their opening games, Madrid made a stuttering start but will now go into next weekend's El Clasico with back-to-back wins and Ronaldo hitting form.
Coach Jose Mourinho chose to rest Xabi Alonso and Alvaro Arbeloa and, in a new-look midfield, Sami Khedira was joined by Luka Modric in the centre, who up until Sunday had played further forward.
At the back, Sergio Ramos switched to right back with Raphael Varane coming into the centre.
Madrid had plenty of early pressure with Ronaldo having a snap shot after 10 minutes which keeper Daniel Aranzubia got down well to block and then the Portuguese fired wide from the edge of the area.
The visitors had seen little of the ball but went ahead through practically their first attack thanks to a Madrid defence which had gaping holes.
The ball was played into Riki who found plenty of space between Varane and Pepe and then slotted into the corner.
Di Maria was lively in attack and seemed the most likely to offer a response.
He chipped over the crossbar from a tight angle and then won a penalty after being pulled down by Manuel Pablo which was dispatched by Ronaldo.
It was Di Maria who then put Madrid ahead with a clinical finish inside the area after a fine throughball from Modric.
While his big rival at Barcelona Lionel Messi has continued his blistering form this season, it has not been the same for Ronaldo who has not reached his usual standards, claiming that he was unhappy.
He lacked his killer touch after bursting past Manuel Pablo after 32 minutes as he fired wide but he showed desire to pounce and extend Madrid's lead before the break.
Sergio Ramos' shot was well saved by Aranzubia and Ronaldo was the first to react as he dived in to head the ball over the line.
Kaka was given a rare appearance after the break and Alonso was also introduced as Madrid were able to stroll in the second half with Deportivo offering little.
Pepe headed in an Alonso free-kick after 65 minutes and then Ronaldo got his third of the night again from the penalty spot after a handball by Evaldo Santos.
Earlier yesterday, Valladolid demolished Rayo Valladolid 6-1, Osasuna made easy work of Levante with a 4-0 victory, while Granada came out on top 2-1 against Celta Vigo.
Atletico Madrid, unbeaten since the start to the season, were scheduled for a late away date with Espanyol.