Ronaldo breaks hat trick La Liga record in Real Madrid win over Celta
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a record-breaking 23rd Primera Division hat trick while Real Madrid equalled the Spanish record of 18 successive victories after beating Celta Vigo 3-0 on a memorable night at the Bernabeu.
Ronaldo opened the scoring with a controversially-awarded penalty that he won himself in the 36th minute before netting twice more in the second half as he moved onto 200 La Liga goals for Madrid -- the fastest any player has achieved the feat -- having only joined the Spanish giants in 2009.
The Portugal superstar's treble saw him go clear of Telmo Zarra and Alfredo di Stefano for the most Primera Division hat-tricks, while also taking him to 23 goals in just 14 league games this season.
The victory also saw Madrid move a step closer to another berth in the record books.
Having last weekend broken their club record of 16 successive wins, the European champions have now equalled the all-time record by a Spanish team of 18 successive victories, set by Frank Rijkaard's Barcelona side in 2005-06.
Madrid will now be expected to claim that record outright on Tuesday when they host Ludogorets -- who prop up Group B -- in the Champions League.
It has been a phenomenal run of results from Carlo Ancelotti's men, who started the season with two defeats in their opening three league games having already lost the Spanish Supercopa to Atletico Madrid, and Ronaldo has been central to that success.
He had scored nine goals in his previous five matches against Celta and it was no surprise to see the world player of the year back on the scoresheet again on Saturday.
Celta will be far from impressed by his opening goal though, with the former Manchester United man going to ground under the slightest touch by Jonny as he looked to get on the end of Marcelo's lofted pass - with the initial contact also looking like it took place outside the area.
The penalty was awarded though, and 29-year-old Ronaldo stepped up to send Sergio Alvarez the wrong way from 12 yards.
Madrid were not finding Celta easy opponents to break down, but Alvarez was still much the busier of the keepers as he produced saves to deny Ronaldo and James Rodriguez in the first half before pushing over Gareth Bale's piledriver just after the hour.
Alvarez was left with little chance to save soon after, however, as the ball rebounded nicely inside the area for Ronaldo to smash a right-footed shot past the Celta keeper and make it 2-0.
Bale went close again with a flicked header that did not quite have enough height to beat Alvarez as Madrid sought a third, but Celta also kept the home defence on their toes with the occasional foray forward, with one Nolito free-kick almost catching Iker Casillas out.
The night undoubtedly belonged to Ronaldo though, and the B£80million man completed yet another hat-trick - while also securing him a fresh place in the record books - when he slotted home at the far post nine minutes from time.
Madrid's win leaves them four points ahead of reigning champions Atletico at the summit, although Barcelona could move back to within two points if they beat derby rivals Espanyol on Sunday.