MADRID: Cristiano Ronaldo claimed yet another hat-trick in his treble-swept career as Real Madrid thrashed fellow Champions League contenders Athletic Bilbao to maintain their climb up La Liga after an erratic start.
He thus matched Alfredo Di Stefano and Telmo Zarra’s record of 22 top division hat-trick, a remarkable feat considered the sophisticated fitness, technical and tactical of modern-day football. He has now scored 13 goals in six league appearances with what was his third treble of the campaign.
Ronaldo headed Madrid in front from Gareth Bale’s lofted centre in the third minute at the Bernabeu. Karim Benzema made it 2-0 four minutes before halftime when he headed home at a corner and Bale set up Ronaldo for his second 10 minutes into the second half.
The Portuguese World Player of the Year unselfishly squared for Benzema to make it 4-0 in the 69th and completed his treble two minutes from time when the ball bounced off his body into the net.
The victory lifted Real above Atletico de Madrid into fourth place on 15 points after the champions’ 3-1 reverse at Valencia on Saturday.
In France substitute striker Anthony Martial struck from close range in stoppage time to earn Monaco a deserved 1-1 draw away to champions Paris Saint-Germain. The draw prevented PSG, still without injured striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, from leaping into second place behind leaders Marseille.
After Monaco dominated most of the first half PSG seized the lead in the 71st minute when Brazilian midfielder Lucas converted a right-wing cross from substitute Jean-Christophe Bahebeck. Martial’s equaliser meant the clubs repeated the two results of last season between the champions and Monaco, who finished as runners-up.
Lille went down 3-0 at Olympique Lyonnais to a hat-trick from France’s Alexandre Lacazette, who took his tally to seven, two goals less than Marseille’s Andre-Pierre Gignac. Lyon are sixth with 14 points.
In Holland PSV Eindhoven regained outright lead of the league as their closest challengers Ajax Amsterdam and PEC Zwolle played out a goalless draw. Adam Maher, Luciano Narsingh and Jurgen Locadia scored as PSV cruised to a 3-0 home win over Excelsior Rotterdam despite having defender Jeffrey Bruma sent off after an hour.
In Italy a spectacular late volley by defender Leonardo Bonucci gave Juventus a 3-2 win over AS Roma in a stormy top-of-the-table clash which produced three first-half penalties, three dismissals, several scuffles and controversy.
The leading pair, who both had 100 percent records from their opening five matches, provided non-stop entertainment, calm finishing, skill and chaos, all with the raucous backdrop of Juve’s cauldron of a stadium.
The game erupted in the 27th minute when Pirlo’s 30-metre free kick was charged down by Maicon in the Roma wall and referee Gianlucca Rocchi pointed to the spot. Roma protested furiously and coach Rudi Garcia, imitating a violin player on the touchline, was sent off before Tevez fired home.
Rocchi pointed to the spot again five minutes later after Juve’s Stephan Lichtsteiner rugby-tackled Totti as the pair tussled at a free kick. Totti side-footed in, the first Serie A goal Juve have conceded this season, and ran off to celebrate with Roma fans in the corner to pick up one of the six yellow cards handed out in the first half.
Roma went ahead when Gervinho split open the Juventus defence with an exquisite reverse pass and Iturbe fired between Gianlugi Buffon and the near post. The Ivorian nearly put Roma further ahead when he broke away from Martin Caceres, who pulled up with a thigh strain, and shot over the bar from a good position.
He was immediately confronted by furious Roma players, angry that he had not put the ball out.
Roma’s lead lasted three minutes before Miralem Pjanic clumsily raised his foot as he slid in on Paul Pogba, who went down in the area for another penalty which Tevez once again converted. Both sides held the lead before defender Bonucci settled matters for the titleholders in the 86th minute.
Tempers flared again in the 89th minute when Juve substitute Alvaro Morata slid in on Konstantinos Manolas from behind, the Greek reacted angrily and the two squared up and were sent off. At least a dozen players joined in including Buffon who ran 60 metres to join the action.
Juventus lead with 18 points, three clear of Roma, followed by Sampdoria who beat Atalanta 1-0 to remain unbeaten. Inter Milan lost 3-0 at previously goal shy Fiorentina and Napoli beat Torino 2-1 at home in the late games.
In Portugal champions Benfica scored four goals in the last 15 minutes to beat Arouca 4-0 and stay four points clear at the top.
Outsiders Arouca held out until Anderson Talisca exchanged passes with fellow Brazilian Derley to break the deadlock in the 75th minute. Derley tapped in the second five-minutes later before Liberia-born Dutchman Ola John set up further goals for Eduardo Salvio and Jonas.
“It was a very cruel result, but that’s football,” said Arouca coach Pedro Emanuel.
In Sweden captain Markus Rosenberg fired a late winner for defending champions Malmo FF as they became the first team to retain the title for 11 years by beating AIK 3-2 in Stockholm on Sunday.
With title rivals IFK Gothenburg and Elfsborg having lost earlier on Sunday, Malmo took to the field knowing that a draw would be enough for them to retain the title.
The southern Swedish side took the lead when Isaac Thelin headed home Magnus Eriksson’s free kick just before halftime, and Eriksson got on the scoresheet himself six minutes into the second half, curling a beautiful right-foot shot into the top corner.
Nabil Bahoui pulled a goal back for AIK in the 67th minute and then fired home a dipping, swerving free kick in the 85th minute, but Rosenberg hit back a minute later, turning his man before firing home to silence the home crowd and put the title beyond doubt.
The AIK result gave Malmo (59) a 12-point lead with three games left to play and makes them the first team to retain the Swedish title since Djurgarden in 2003, with IFK Gothenburg in second and Elfsborg third on 46.