Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick as Real Madrid twice came from behind to win 4-2 against Villarreal on Sunday, keeping the team within two points of Spanish league leader Barcelona.

The Portugal forward made it 1-1 by side-footing home Mesut Ozil’s pass in the ninth minute, two minutes after Villarreal midfielder Cani had flicked the ball over goalkeeper Iker Casillas to open the scoring.

Villarreal’s slick passing game troubled Madrid, and Bruno Soriano’s exquisite 18th-minute pass put Ruben Castro through alone on goal to lob Casillas for a 2-1 lead.

However, Ronaldo headed in Xabi Alonso’s swerving free kick inside the crowded Villarreal area just before the break to equalize.

Ronaldo scrambled to recover a loose ball in the 79th right after blowing an excellent chance in front of goal. He then swiveled before tucking a low shot past goalkeeper Diego Lopez inside the near post for a league-leading 22nd goal.

Villarreal coach Juan Carlos Garrido was sent off by the referee for protesting against the goal.

Second-half substitute Kaka redirected Ronaldo’s pass past Lopez for his first goal of the season three minutes later, causing his pumped-up coach Jose Mourinho to urge the Santiago Bernabeu stadium crowd on from the sidelines.

Barcelona, still the pace-setters

On Saturday, defending champion Barcelona beat Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 to move to 49 points from 18 games.

Earlier, Espanyol snapped a three-game losing run and dropped Zaragoza into last place with a 4-0 win.

Espanyol rediscovered its winning form thanks to the return of striker Pablo Osvaldo, who scored his seventh goal after surging into the area after eight minutes.

Luis Garcia converted a penalty kick in the 30th after Marc Callejon was tripped inside the area. Garcia found Alvaro Vazquez racing down the middle of the area in the 34th and the 19-year-old striker flicked the ball past goalkeeper Leo Franco with the outside of his foot for a 3-0 lead.

Garcia then spotted Sergio Garcia alone in the 87th for an easy goal into an empty net. Zaragoza is behind Almeria and Sporting Gijon on goal difference, with all three teams tied on 13 points in the relegation places.

Keywords: La Liga

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