Real Madrid 6-0 Espanyol: Cristiano Ronaldo hits hat-trick as hosts close gap
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 01/02/16 6:43am
Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick helped Real Madrid close the gap on Barcelona as they thumped Espanyol 6-0.
The forward has scored 30 goals for Madrid this term and they now trail La Liga leaders Barcelona by four points and sit just one behind city rivals Atletico.
Karim Benzema, James Rodriguez and Ruben Duarte's own goal sealed Madrid's demolition job.
They go to Granada next Sunday hoping to catch Barcelona after Luis Enrique's side beat Atletico 2-1 at the Nou Camp on Saturday.
Benzema opened the scoring after just seven minutes to start a first-half goal rush as Madrid bossed the game from kick-off.
He turned in James' inch-perfect cross from six yards and then Ronaldo doubled the lead from the spot five minutes later when he was brought down by Enzo Roco.
There was no let-up from the hosts and James made it 3-0 after just 17 minutes when his shot deflected off the back of Diop and wrong-footed goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis, on loan from Watford, in the Espanyol goal.
Benzema wasted two more chances before Ronaldo grabbed his second when he broke through and beat Arlauskis from just outside the area.
Zinedine Zidane is yet to lose since replacing Rafael Benitez this month and his side continued to batter their visitors as Isco and Benezma went close.
Abraham had Espanyol's best chance but his late shot was saved by Keylor Navas before Ronaldo clinched his treble by heading in Jese's cross with eight minutes left.
Duarte then completed the rout after the centre-back unfortunately deflected Jese's low centre into his own net with four minutes remaining.