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Ronaldo hat-trick leads Real Madrid to victory

Cristiano Ronaldo kept Real Madrid within two points of La Liga leaders Barcelona as his hat-trick helped Madrid beat Villarreal 4-2, on a day when Espanyol boosted their European ambitions by downing Real Zaragoza 4-0.

José Mourinho’s men twice had to come from behind against third-placed Villarreal and on both occasions it was Ronaldo who restored parity, the Portuguese forward cancelling out Cani’s cool seventh-minute opener just two minutes later before heading in on the stroke of half-time after Marco Ruben (18) had chipped the Yellow Submarine back in front. Ronaldo then gave Madrid the lead for the first time with 11 minutes to go and they secured victory when Kaká (82) buried his first goal for the club since February last year.

Espanyol hauled themselves up to fifth thanks to their resounding win against Zaragoza, the bottom side having no answer to efforts from Pablo Osvaldo (8), Luis García (30), Álvaro Vázquez (34) and Sergio García (87). The result took the victors level on points with fourth-placed Valencia, who travel to face Levante in the late game.

In eighth, Mallorca hit four goals of their own as they defeated second-bottom Almería 4-1, while Diego Castro’s added-time leveller earned Sporting Gijon a 1-1 draw at Racing Santander that lifted them off the foot of the table to 18th. Osasuna and Getafe played to a 0-0 draw 0-0.