Football

Ronaldo scores 50th career hat-trick, leaves Real coach Zidane in awe

Real coach Zidane waxes lyrical over Ronaldo, who nets 50th career hat-trick

Cristiano Ronaldo's troubled first half to this season looked a thing from the distant past as he clinched the 50th hat-trick of his career in Real Madrid's 6-3 win over Girona yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The Portuguese's four-goal haul means he has now scored 21 goals in 13 games in all competitions since the turn of the year, reported AFP.

He is also second in La Liga top-scorer's chart with 22 goals, just three behind leader and arch-rival Lionel Messi of Barcelona.

His scintillating performance drew high praise from Real coach Zinedine Zidane, who pointed out the 33-year-old player's influence as being crucial to the team's success.

Zidane, whose team reclaimed third place from Valencia, said on Real Madrid TV: "He comes from another galaxy, it's true."

"Ronaldo is very important to us, he transmits an energy across the whole group," added the Los Blancos coach, as reported by Sky Sports.

  • 50

    Real Madrid and Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 50 hat-tricks in his career.

    HAT-TRICK BREAKDOWN

    BY TEAM

    • Real Madrid: 44
    • Portugal: 5
    • Manchester United: 1

    BY COMPETITION

    • La Liga: 34
    • Champions League: 7
    • World Cup qualification: 4
    • Copa del Rey: 2

    English Premier League, Fifa Club World Cup, European Championship qualification: 1

    >3 GOALS

    Ronaldo's quartet against Girona yesteday was the ninth occasion he has hit four in a match, while he has scored five in a game twice.

"He knows himself very well and he knows when he has to stop a bit so that, when the end of the season arrives, he hits top form.

"He is tremendous. In training, he is incredible. For example, if there is a penalty, he takes it with maximum concentration. And that is only training. It is incredible.

MASTERFUL MESSI

"But I also want to highlight his colleagues, who help him a lot. We scored some spectacular goals that came from the whole team."

Not to be outdone by his greatest rival, Messi also delivered another masterful performance as Barcelona sailed past Athletic Bilbao 2-0 to take an 11-point lead over nearest rivals Atletico Madrid, who lost 2-1 away to Villarreal.

After putting Chelsea to the sword in the Champions League in midweek, Messi scored for the sixth game in a row against Athletic at Nou Camp to propel Barca closer to the domestic title.

"Every day he discovers something new, something different, he's very aware of what he has to do, what the team need from him at each moment," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said of Messi.

"Many times it seems that the coach has to teach the players, but what the coach really does is learn alongside them as things go on. We hope to keep on learning together."

A dominant start from Barca at Nou Camp yielded the opening goal after just eight minutes as Messi found Jordi Alba out on the left, his pullback neatly side-footed into the far corner by Paco Alcacer, filling in for the suspended Luis Suarez.

A crunching low drive from the 30-year-old Argentinian on the half hour settled the issue.

Football