It’s not often a player with Cristiano Ronaldo’s track record of success does something they’ve never done before, but the five goals scored in Real Madrid’s thrashing of Granada was a landmark for the Portugal forward. On a weekend which saw a number of other standout contributions – another David Barral hat-trick for Levante perhaps the pick of the bunch – Ronaldo reminded the watching world why he is the reigning Ballon d’Or holder.
Ronaldo’s quintet clawed back Lionel Messi in the one-on-one fight for the Pichichi and kept Madrid in the title race, bringing the first three points of the 30 from 10 games called for by the capital Press. The media might be demanding a lot but the victory – more the manner of it, really – was a message to Barcelona that the title race won’t become a procession. Madrid may have stumbled in the Clasico but they’re in it for the long haul and Ronaldo is flying.
Granada may not have provided the stiffest opposition Ronaldo will face between now and the close of the campaign but he can only rout the sorry lot in front of him, and no other player dominated the score sheet in quite the same way. Ronaldo picked up 110 EuroFantasyLeague points to go with his five goals and had eight more shots on goal – it’s no exaggeration to suggest he could have walked away with a goal return in double figures.
To put Ronaldo’s achievement in context, his five goals put him into a club that already boasts Ferenc Puskas and Miguel Munoz as members, those players to have scored five in a single game as Real Madrid players. Fernando Morientes did it as well, in the 2001-02 season, while Bebeto scored five for Deportivo La Coruna, doing so, like Ronaldo, Morientes, Pukas and Hans Krankl, without converting a penalty.
The first half hat-trick that helped put Madrid 4-0 up at half-time came in a time comparable to the one recorded by Alberto Bueno as he scored four for Rayo Vallecano against Levante, and, by close of play at Santiago Bernabeu, had reached 47 goals in all competitions for the season, 36 in La Liga alone, and put him on 300 goals for Los Blancos in 287 appearances. And each goal that went in past poor Oier Olazabal was celebrated by Ronaldo with equal fervour and passion.
Barca’s late win over Celta Vigo kept the gap at four points but Madrid cruised before Barca toiled. Both teams have what, on paper, are difficult fixtures before the season comes to a close, but with Ronaldo in this form, the goals and the points are likely to keep flowing. Yet Lionel Messi has sparkled since January and it might come down to a straight shootout between the Argentine and the Portuguese.