Cristiano Ronaldo's remarkable run of form continued with the 50th hat-trick of his career as his four-goal haul inspired Real Madrid to a thrilling 6-3 win over Girona in LaLiga on Sunday.
The Portuguese netted for the eighth game in a row in all competitions, while it was the fourth league outing in succession in which he has found the net at least twice.
A quiet start to 2017-18 saw Ronaldo score just four LaLiga goals before the turn of the year but since late January he has been virtually unstoppable, this stunning display at the Santiago Bernabeu taking his tally to 21 in his past 11 outings across domestic and continental competitions.
His first arrived in the 11th minute, a clinical left-footed finish from Toni Kroos' ball, but Girona pegged the champions back shortly before the half-hour as Cristhian Stuani headed home from a free-kick.
Ronaldo restored Madrid's advantage early in the second period at the end of a fine move and then added an assist for good measure as Lucas Vazquez - who saw a goal wrongly ruled out for offside in the first half - got in on the act.
The matchball was secured soon after the hour as Ronaldo converted a rebound before Stuani bagged his second with another header - his ninth this season via that method, a LaLiga high.
Substitute Gareth Bale joined in the fun four minutes from time and although Madrid conceded their third header of the game to Juanpe, it was fitting that Ronaldo had the last word by rifling in his fourth in stoppage time.
50 - Cristiano Ronaldo has scored his 50th hat-trick in all competitions (club + country). Beast. pic.twitter.com/l7xlOzEFfe— OptaJose (@OptaJose) March 18, 2018
Madrid were stunned 2-1 in the reverse fixture in October and they seemed intent on avenging that defeat as they flew out of the traps and called Bono into action twice in the first seven minutes.
The Girona goalkeeper tipped Ronaldo's fizzing free-kick over and then denied Vazquez following fine set-up play from Karim Benzema.
It was not long before Ronaldo continued his hot streak, however, as Kroos exchanged passes with Marcelo from a corner and picked out the Portuguese to sweep home first time from 12 yards.
Girona were fortunate not to fall two behind midway through the half as Vazquez's finish from Kroos' delightfully disguised ball was incorrectly disallowed.
And Madrid were further riled by that injustice as six minutes later Alex Granell whipped in a free-kick from the left and Stuani was all alone to thump a header beyond Keylor Navas.
If Madrid were frustrated to be level at the break, their vexation was vanquished within two minutes of the restart.
Mateo Kovacic, Vazquez and Benzema were all involved in a glorious team move, the Frenchman slipping through a pass for Ronaldo to finish off the underside of the crossbar.
The Portugal superstar then turned provider shortly before the hour as he received Benzema's pass and unselfishly squared for Vazquez to slot home.
Madrid were rampant as Nacho Fernandez headed against the bar and Ronaldo's hat-trick arrived in the 64th minute, the simplest of tap-ins after Bono parried Benzema's effort.
The lead was cut to two within three minutes as Stuani headed home Borja Garcia's delivery and Madrid showed few signs of having learned their lesson as the Uruguayan was soon left unmarked again, this time glancing wide.
In a whirlwind finish, Bale slotted beyond the advancing Bono before Juanpe headed in Granell's corner but, as if there were to be any doubt, Ronaldo ensured he would dominate the headlines by firing in from another Kroos assist.
Key Opta stats:
- Cristiano Ronaldo has scored more goals than any other player from the top five European leagues in 2018 in all competitions (21).
- Girona are the only team to have scored three headed goals in a LaLiga game against Real Madrid since at least 2003-04.
- Karim Benzema has provided more assists than any other Real Madrid player in LaLiga this season (eight).
- The Frenchman has assisted Ronaldo for 41 goals in all competitions, at least 14 more than any other team-mate.
|Madrid bench Benzema and Bale as James starts for Bayern|
|NFL Draft 2018: Teams with most riding on draft|
|Salah used to have problems in front of goal, says former Basel team-mate Sommer|
|Oxlade-Chamberlain ruled out of World Cup|
|Arsenal´s Bellerin slams Daily Mail as ´click baiters´|
|Rodgers and Paul to take NFL-NBA battle to the golf course|
|Gurley, Elliott & Fournette - The top-10 running backs of the last 10 years|
|I truly could have shot 59 - Spieth reflects on Augusta charge|
|Bruno Mars, Britney Spears to perform at US GP|
|Mourinho suggests United were ´not prepared to win´ before his arrival|
|Wolves in the clear over Mendes link-up|
|Salzburg first, history later for Garcia and Marseille|
|Nadal overcomes plucky Carballes Baena to make more clay history|
|Tennis´ governing bodies acknowledge ´vulnerabilities´ after independent integrity review|
|Leeds owner defends controversial Myanmar tour|
|ICC apologises, launches investigation into controversial tweet|
|Moeen: England should have dropped me sooner|
|Henderson: Injured fan´s recovery is the only result that matters|
|Ronaldo sends signed shirt to Manchester United star Rashford|
|Independent review says tennis faces ´serious integrity problem´ with betting|
|Djokovic stunned by Klizan in Barcelona|
|This group deserves something special – Wenger wants to exit on a high|
|North to return to Wales with Ospreys|
|Vieira ´ready for Europe´ amid reported Arsenal interest|
|Wenger focused on Arsenal despite desire to keep working elsewhere|
|Mourinho has made me a better person, says McTominay|
|Gerard sacked as Barca B coach after woeful winless run|
|Sensational Storm demolish Warriors, Dragons win again|
|Bayern links ´an honour´ for Madrid man Bale|
|F1 Raceweek: Vettel closing in on milestone - Azerbaijan GP in numbers|
|It is wide open - Wozniacki hopeful over Roland Garros chances|
|Roma ashamed by Liverpool fan attack|
|Wade, Ginobili will not be rushed over retirement decisions|
|UEFA ´shocked by vile attack´ on Liverpool fan|
|Mayfield´s Big 12 dominance & Jackson the dual threat - The 2018 Quarterback class in Opta numbers|
|Campbell tips Vieira and Bergkamp to replace Wenger|
|Courtois to sue former Belgium coach Wilmots|
|Heavyweights Ronaldo and Lewandowski go head to head – Champions League in Opta numbers|
|Spurs, Heat eliminated as Celtics go up 3-2|
|Angels overcome Ohtani´s so-so outing to win series over Astros|
|Red Bull want Ricciardo decision by August|
|Rangers injuries piling up as Beltre leaves with hamstring issue|
|A´s closer Treinen exits after being hit by comebacker|
|Copa Libertadores Review: Gabriel leads Santos, Atletico cruise|
|He decides the biggest moments – Wijnaldum hails Salah|
|Finau ready to compete after freak ankle injury at Masters|
|Roma have some hope, says Monchi|
|Westbrook fined $10,000 for altercation with Gobert|
|Messi? Ronaldo? Salah is world´s best player – Gerrard|
|Liverpool are not Barcelona – Klopp cautious of Roma comeback|
|Liverpool supporter in ´critical condition´ after fan clashes|
|Gronkowski commits to 2018 season with Patriots|
|F1 Raceweek: Title race to heat up at venue of Vettel-Hamilton flashpoint|
|It´s all-inclusive football with Liverpool! - Klopp pleased despite Roma recovery|
|Montella to remain Sevilla coach until end of season|
|Di Francesco: Roma gave up – but if you don´t believe in a comeback, stay at home|
|Klopp accepts Salah substitution sparked Roma fightback|
|Oxlade-Chamberlain may miss World Cup after suffering ´a really bad injury´|
|De Rossi blames long balls for Roma ´blackout´ at Anfield|
|Trump happy to fly under the radar at World Championship|
|Late Liverpool lapses sour stunning Salah show|
|Henderson wary of Barcelona repeat as Roma leave Liverpool with hope|
|Championship Review: Cardiff slip up as Barnsley stay in the relegation zone|
|Goffin lives dangerously in Barcelona|
|Liverpool 5 Roma 2: Salah shines but late comeback offers Giallorossi hope|
|Salah sets Liverpool record with spectacular first-half double|
|Six first-round quarterbacks & two top-10 trades - 2018 NFL Mock Draft|
|Oxlade-Chamberlain carried off in Champions League semi-final|
|Indians equal lowest total in defeat to Sunrisers|
|Selby final frustration contributed to ´beginning of the end´ comment - Higgins|