Friday, March 25, 2011

Ronaldo hat-trick seals Real's comeback win

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Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring against Villarreal during their Spanish league match at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

MADRID - Cristiano Ronaldo scored a sensational hat-trick as Real Madrid twice came from behind to defeat Villarreal 4-2 on Sunday to maintain its perfect home record and close to within two points of leader Barcelona.

Portuguese star Ronaldo took his season's tally to 22 league goals with strikes in the eighth, 44th and 78th minutes after third-place Villarreal had threatened an upset after twice going in front in a pulsating first half at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Barcelona's 4-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday had put the pressure on Real to respond.

Villarreal twice took the lead only for Ronaldo to pull Real back into the game with his 20th and 21st league goals of the season to cancel out goals from Ruben Cani, after six minutes, and Marco Ruben in the 17th.

In the second half, Ronaldo again took center stage, putting Real ahead in the 78th minute after a mistake from goalkeeper Diego Lopez before Brazilian substitute Kaka celebrated his return to fitness with his first league goal of the season minutes later.

"I am just doing my bit and I couldn't score all these goals without my team-mates," said Ronaldo.

"There is a long way to go in the season and I want to continue in this vein and help Real Madrid win something important.

"The fans were great tonight and surprised me. We noticed it a lot in the second half when we fought back."

Real coach Jose Mourinho celebrated wildly on the touchline to the anger of the Villarreal dug-out and the visitors' coach Juan Carlos Garrido was sent off for protesting that Ronaldo's third goal was offside.

"The referees are afraid to make a mistake against Real Madrid but not against another team," said Garrido.

"There were three actions when Real players should have been shown yellow cards and weren't. The goal for 3-2 was also decisive and there were two offsides in the same action."

Real now turns its attention to Thursday's Kings Cup quarterfinal first-leg clash against city rival Atletico Madrid at the Bernabeu, while Villarreal, now 11 points behind Real in third, face Sevilla in its last eight cup clash on Wednesday.

(China Daily)

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