A Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick gave Atletico Madrid yet more derby heartache as Real Madrid enhanced their lead at the top of La Liga with a 3-0 win in the last league derby in the Vicente Calederon Stadium.
In the first meeting between the sides since Real edged the Champions League final on penalties in May, luck shone on Los Blancos once more as Ronaldo’s first-half free-kick took a wicked deflection off the Atletico wall to leave the excellent Jan Oblak stranded.
With Isco making a rare start under manager Zinedine Zidane, the visitors looked far superior as Tuesday’s hero for Spain put in a spectacular performance once more to remind his French coach of his abilities.
With the 24-year-old showing glimpses of his magic beside Luka Modric in midfield, Cholo Simeone’s men struggled to compete in their 4-4-2 shape with Fernando Torres chosen over Kevin Gameiro to lead the line with Antoine Griezmann.
The front two looked to be on alternate wavelengths as the Euro 2016 golden-boot winner would win aerial duels often, but El Nino wasn’t in sync with the landing of the ball, making for a comfortable opening half for the men in white.
A jaw-dropping save from Oblak kept Los Rojiblancos in the tie, and with the score at 1-0 at the break, Simeone’s men will have been counting their blessings to still be in it.
As the second period began, Atletico raised their game and took the encounter to their most bitterest of rivals with opportunities landing to Yannick Carrasco and Griezmann after Koke and Saul were dropping into pockets between the lines to collect the ball from full backs Felipe Luis and Juanfran.
Atleti were on top, Angel Correa and Gameiro were introduced and with Simeone playing as the conductor to his loyal fans, the leveller seemed to be on its way, and then disaster struck.
A seemingly nothing pass saw Ronaldo catch Stefan Savic off balance and as the pair collided, the referee pointed to the spot. Cristiano dusted himself down to slot the penalty home and put the tie to bed before posing down the lens of the television camera to add salt to the wounds of Los Colchoneros.
FT: Atletico 0-3 Real Madrid.
Cristiano Ronaldo scores his 39th, yes THIRTY NINTH Real Madrid hat trick! pic.twitter.com/49aakBOyiG
— TheSPORTbible (@TSBible) November 19, 2016
With the home team now throwing everything forward in hope of a half chance landing to them to provide a door back into the tie, the inevitable happened.
As the ball broke to the quite magnificent Modric, the Croatian released Gareth Bale into a foot-race with Juanfran. There was only ever going to be one winner with the Spaniard left completely exposed and the Welshman played the ball across goal deliciously for his Portuguese strike-partner to tap in for his hat-trick.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Real Madrid career by numbers:
2 Ballon d’Ors
Legend of the game. pic.twitter.com/9K4xIUyFAU
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 19, 2016
Real Madrid have been brutal on the counter attack for years and with the pace of Bale and Ronaldo, it is always a danger when the likes of Modric has the ball as the midfield dynamo sees passes that many can even think of.
It was a nightmare evening for a misfiring Atletico, who will look to bounce back in the Champions League this coming week as they face Dutch outfit PSV Eindhoven before travelling to Osasuna next Sunday.
The European Champions are in fine form and with Luka Modric back, their clock is ticking perfectly. They will continue their defence of the Champions League trophy away at Sporting Lisbon on Tuesday before hosting Sporting Gijon on Saturday and will hope to further their four point lead at the top of the La Liga table.