MADRID: Cristiano Ronaldo savoured derby delight again with yet another treble as Real Madrid opened up a four-point lead at the top of the Spanish league.
Ronaldo struck his 39th career hat-trick – although his first goal may yet be credited to Raphael Varane – as Real beat city neighbours Atletico Madrid 3-0 in the Estadio Vicente Calderon’s final league derby.
Atletico will bid a sad farewell to the Calderon in the summer when moving to a new 67,000-capacity La Peineta home, but they would be truly delighted to say goodbye to Ronaldo.
The Portuguese superstar has been a constant thorn in Atletico’s side down the years and his third goal, sweeping home Gareth Bale’s cross into an unguarded net, took him past Alfredo Di Stefano’s 17-goal mark in this fixture.
Gabriel Mercado was the hugely controversial match-winner for Sevilla as they came from 2-0 down to beat Deportivo La Coruna 3-2 at the Estadio Riazor.
Goals from Ryan Babel and Florin Andone put the hosts in command, but Steven Nzonzi halved the deficit just before half-time.
Mercado could arguably have been red-carded for shoving Andone to the ground with a quarter of an hour to go, but then popped up with the winner in injury time after Vitolo had drawn the visitors level.
Victor Sanchez’s reign as Real Betis manager got off to a winning start with a 2-0 victory at home to Las Palmas.
The former Olympiacos and Deportivo la Coruna boss replaced Gus Poyet, who was sacked during the international break after back-to-back defeats saw them drop to within two points of the relegation zone.
The change was justified as goals from Bruno and Aissa Mandi brought only their second home win of the season.