Ronaldo powers Real Madrid with hat trick in rout

AP

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick and Gareth Bale and Javier Hernandez added braces as Real Madrid rolled past Deportivo La Coruna 8-2 to emphatically end its two-game losing skid in the Spanish League on Saturday.

After Madrid romped, defending champion Atletico Madrid slipped to a 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo, while Granada quietly rose into a provisional share of second place with Atletico after a 1-0 win at Athletic Bilbao.

Atletico and Granada are one point behind Barcelona before the leader visits Levante on Sunday.

Ronaldo scored his first two goals on either side of James Rodriguez’s superb long strike to decide the match at Riazor Stadium before halftime, and send Madrid on its way to its biggest away goal total in league play.

Rodriguez then helped the Ballon d’Or holder score his eighth goal in as many matches across all competitions in the second half as Deportivo completely crumbled.

After back-to-back losses to Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid rebounded by routing Basel 5-1 in the Champions League on Tuesday.

This latest lopsided victory will go a long way to satisfying its fans, who turned on the team recently and directed jeers at captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

“After two losses we have scored 13 goals in two games, that’s a sign we have responded well,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said.

Madrid’s second win in four rounds left it two points behind Atletico, and three points behind Barcelona.

Ronaldo combined physical prowess and fine touch for Madrid’s opening goal in the 22nd minute. He jumped and hung in the air before gently heading Alvaro Arbeloa’s cross over goalkeeper German Lux.

Four minutes later, Lux could only watch again as Rodriguez curled an exquisite left-foot shot from outside the area over his head and just inside the corner of the goal.

Helpless to stop Madrid’s first two goals, Lux was largely to blame for the third. The goalie rashly rushed out of his area when Karim Benzema ran onto Marcelo’s long pass, even though two defenders were in place to contest the ball. His mistake left Ronaldo alone to get his second in the 41st.

“We have shown the talent we have in attack,” Ancelotti said. “We have a phenomenal player and others with a lot of talent. They looked for one another and that’s what stood out.”

Deportivo’s Haris Medunjanin pulled one back from the penalty spot after Sergio Ramos used his hand to block Isaac Cuenca’s header in the 51st.

But Marcelo spotted Bale’s run across the box and the Welshman used one touch to turn the ball beyond Lux, who grazed it but not enough to stop it from going in off the post in the 66th.

Bale’s second goal was similar, except this time it was substitute Francisco “Isco” Alarcon who slipped the ball through for Bale to lift over Lux in the 74th.

Ronaldo fired in his third in the 78th after Rodriguez stole the ball and set him up. Jose “Toche” Verdu scored a header for the hosts 10 minutes later.

Arsenal back on track

AP

Mesut Ozil answered his critics to lift Arsenal out of its slump, while Liverpool suffered a second successive English Premier League loss on Saturday.

Ozil, Arsenal’s record $70 million signing, ended an eight-match scoring drought stretching back into last season, and also set up Danny Welbeck’s first goal for the club in a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa.

The play-maker’s influential performance came after manager Arsene Wenger said he should not be a “scapegoat” for a trio of domestic draws and Champions League loss.

The emphatic win ended Villa’s unbeaten start to the season, a week after the team stunned Liverpool at Anfield.

West Ham inflicted Liverpool’s third loss in five rounds, beating last season’s runner-up 3-1.

There were late goals in three of Saturday’s games. Under-pressure Newcastle manager Alan Pardew saw his side stage a late comeback to draw 2-2 with Hull. Queens Park Rangers twice came from behind to also draw 2-2 with Stoke, and Victor Wanyama’s 80th-minute goal gave Southampton a 1-0 win at Swansea that moved the South Coast club to second place.