Alaves 1-4 Real Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo hits hat-trick to keep Barcelona at bay
By James Dale
Last Updated: 30/10/16 11:06am
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick to end a goal drought as Real Madrid kept their lead at the top of La Liga with a 4-1 win over Alaves.
Deyverson had given Alaves the lead after just seven minutes and the home side were only pegged back after a questionable handball decision from the referee against the goalscorer gave Ronaldo the chance to level things with his first penalty of the game (17).
The Portugal international went on to score again (33) with a deflected effort but missed a second-half spot-kick, before substitute Alvaro Morata finally stretched Real's lead (84) in what was a more nervous affair than the scoreline suggested.
Ronaldo bagged his first hat-trick of the La Liga campaign two minutes from time to ensure Zinedine Zidane's side keep distance between themselves and rivals Barcelona and Atletico Madrid - but the tally flattered both Ronaldo and team-mates in a match which also saw Alaves head coach Mauricio Pellegrino sent to the stands.
Zidane kept faith with Ronaldo - who had been booed by some fans after missing a recent chance - despite Morata scoring the winner in Real's previous game against Athletic Bilbao. Danilo was the only change, replacing the suspended Sergio Ramos.
The stand-in right back struggled against Alaves' altered 5-3-2 formation though, with on-loan Atletico Madrid left wing-back Theo Hernandez returning to the side after suspension to cause a number of problems for Real's defence.
Theo exposed those weaknesses after just seven minutes, getting in behind Danilo on the left flank and forcing Pepe to come across, leaving Deyverson unmarked in the penalty area to meet his cross with a shot hit into the ground and into the net.
The lead seemed to rattle Real, who lost Pepe to injury and struggled to put together any fluid attacking moves and it was only when Ronaldo earned a free-kick on the edge of the area that they managed to work their way into the game in the 17th minute.
Gareth Bale looked to have wasted the set-piece when the ball cannoned off the Alaves wall but the referee signalled for a penalty, despite seeming to come off the head of Deyverson rather than his arm.
Ronaldo stepped up to fire the ball low into the bottom-right corner and send former Real Madrid academy player Fernando Pacheco the wrong way for his first goal in three games.
Just 16 minutes later Ronaldo had his second, picking up the ball and firing a shot from 25 yards which took a fortunate deflection to travel past Pacheco into the far corner.
Victor Camarasa was gifted an opportunity to draw Alaves level just a minute into the second half after being allowed to slip the ball through Raphael Varane's legs, but he failed to convert his one on one with Keylor Navas.
Former Liverpool player Pellegrino was sent to the stands in the 75th minute as Alaves grew frustrated with refereeing decisions as Real took hold of possession and just moments later Ronaldo was awarded a second penalty after being pulled down in the box following a corner.
However, Pacheco guessed right as Ronaldo opted for the same corner as his first and saw his effort beaten away.
Morata was introduced for the ineffectual Karim Benzema and put the result beyond doubt in the 84th minute, latching onto a long ball from Marcelo and lobbing the Alaves goalkeeper expertly to seemingly snatch the limelight.
But there was just time for Ronaldo to complete his first hat-trick of the season two minutes from the whistle, drawing in several Alaves defenders inside the area before final hitting a firm strike past Pacheco from close range to more than double his La Liga goal tally and move Real clear at the top of the table, leaving Barcelona and Atletico Madrid needing to win to avoid falling further behind them.