MADRID: Gareth Bale scored his first hat-trick since his world record £86m move to Real Madrid in a 4-0 crushing of Valladolid.
With Cristiano Ronaldo once again missing through injury, the stage was set for the world-most expensive player to make himself the Spanish giants’ star man.
Starting his eighth match in a row since being thrown in against Barcelona in October, Bale continued his impressive form. After Karim Benzema and Angel di Maria had threatened to open the scoring in the first half, Bale did.
Di Maria’s cross was parried by Diego Marino and the world’s most expensive player had the simplest of headers to put hosts Madrid ahead. Moments later, he almost turned creator when a pinpoint cross begged Benzema to head home the second.
Bale started the moves which led to his second and third goals – although both finishes were as easy as they will come for Madrid’s No. 11 in La Liga.
His second goal was stroked into an empty net from six yards, with his hat-trick goal presented to him inside the six-yard box by Marcelo.
The former Tottenham man has now scored seven times in the league – plus two more in the Champions League – providing a further six assists.
Carlo Ancelotti also handed run-outs to Premier League targets Jese Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata.
Rodriguez has been linked with a loan move to West Ham and it has been suggested on Spanish radio this weekend that Morata has agreed a deal to move on loan to Arsenal in January.
Madrid are now temporarily only three points behind Barcelona, who travel to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, at the top of La Liga.