Gareth Bale took his tally to eight goals in his last seven games with a hat-trick as Real Madrid shrugged off the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo to beat Valladolid 4-0.
With the Portuguese sidelined by a slight muscle strain,
Bale proved to be decisive as he headed home the opener after Diego Marino could only parry Angel di Maria's cross
Three minutes later the Welshman teed up Karim Benzema to
double Madrid's lead with a wonderful in-swinging cross that
the Frenchman bulleted home.
Bale grabbed his second of the game when Carlos Pena
could only turn Marcelo's cross into the path of the grateful
former Tottenham man to slot home.
And Marcelo was again the provider as Bale completed his
first hat-trick in Spanish football with a simple left-footed
finish a minute from time.
Victory moved Real to within three points of leaders
Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, who were also 2-0 victors over
Elche on Saturday.
Bale claimed he didn't feel any added pressure in the
absence of Ronaldo, but admitted to being desperate to seal
his first Madrid hat-trick after registering his second of the
evening with still 26 minutes to go.
"I didn't feel any pressure to be honest, I just want to
go out there and enjoy my football and play as well as I can.
I always try to do that and thankfully I got a hat-trick.
"I think as soon as I scored the second I was trying to
get the third, I was trying my hardest to get into positions
and thankfully the move did work out and it was a great ball
by Marcelo to put it on a plate for me."
Real boss Carlo Ancelotti said he believes Bale's
goalscoring form is evidence that he has firmly found his feet
"I think that his adaption period has finished as I said
"He is a very important player for us, he is playing with
confidence and he did very well today."
In Ronaldo's absence, Di Maria was given a chance to
start and he nearly had the hosts ahead inside five minutes as
he smacked a shot off the underside of the bar.
Benzema then fired wide and Di Maria couldn't beat Marino
when played clean through on goal as Madrid pilled on the
And it finally told on 33 minutes when Di Maria burst
down the left and his cross-come-shot was only parried by
Marino into the path of Bale, who headed into the unguarded
Moments later Bale was the provider as his sumptuous
cross left Benzema with an easy task to head home the second.
Madrid continued to dominate after