Ron­aldo hat-trick ex­tends Madrid lead

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

BARCELONA: Cris­tiano Ron­aldo an­swered his crit­ics with a hat-trick as Real Ma­did came from be­hind to win 4-1 at Alaves and pro­vi­sion­ally go three points clear at the top of La Liga.

Alaves for­ward Deyver­son pounced on an er­ror by Real goal­keeper Key­lor Navas to give the home side a shock lead in the sev­enth minute but the Brazil­ian gave away a con­tro­ver­sial penalty in the 17th for hand­ball, which Ron­aldo calmly con­verted.

The Por­tuguese put the Euro­pean cham­pi­ons in charge in the 33rd with a pow­er­ful strike that de­flected off Zouhair Fed­dal be­yond the reach of for­mer Real goal­keeper Fer­nando Pacheco.

Pacheco did man­age to turn away an­other penalty by Ron­aldo in the sec­ond half but Real’s all-time top scorer net­ted his first tre­ble of the sea­son in the 88th af­ter sub­sti­tute Al­varo Mo­rata had stretched Real’s lead four min­utes ear­lier with a de­light­ful chip.

Real are top of the stand­ings on 24 points, three clear of Sevilla, who drew 1-1 at Sport­ing Gi­jon. Cham­pi­ons Barcelona can cut the gap with Real to two points when they host Granada later.

Real coach Zine­dine Zi­dane praised his side for how they re­acted to go­ing be­hind, al­though their third straight vic­tory was tainted by the sight of de­fender Pepe go­ing off in­jured in the first half.

“If you do not suf­fer, you can­not win La Liga. We kept our heads cool even in dif­fi­cult mo­ments, which al­ways oc­cur in this league,” said Zi­dane.

Ron­aldo had been ques­tioned go­ing into the game af­ter mak­ing his worst start to a sea­son with Real, scor­ing only two goals in six starts, but he is now Zi­dane’s top scorer in the league with five strikes.

His open­ing goal, from the spot, in­censed the home side, as ref­eree Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez harshly pe­nalised Deyver­son for block­ing Gareth Bale’s free­kick with his arm, the ball ap­pear­ing to strike his shoul­der.

Alaves coach Mauri­cio Pel­le­grino was sent off late on for protest­ing against an­other de­ci­sion by the ref­eree. “It wasn’t an easy game at the start or in the sec­ond half. It’s a de­served vic­tory for us al­though it might look harsh on our op­po­nents,” added Zi­dane.

Lu­ciano Vi­etto got Sevilla off to a dream start at Sport­ing by squeez­ing the ball un­der Ivan Cuel­lar in the fourth minute, only for Moi Gomez to level with a vol­ley in the 20th, deny­ing them a club-record-break­ing start.

— AP

VI­TO­RIA: Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale, jumps for the ball be­side De­portivo Alaves Raul Garcia dur­ing the Span­ish La Liga soc­cer match be­tween Real Madrid and De­portivo Alaves, at Men­di­zor­roza sta­dium, in Vi­to­ria, north­ern Spain, yes­ter­day.

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