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October 05, 2014

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo had another hat trick to extend his scoring streak to eight consecutive games and lead Real Madrid to a 5-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish league on Sunday.

It was Ronaldo's second treble to go with one four-goal game already this season and gave the Ballon d'Or holder a league-leading 13 goals in six appearances and 17 overall this season.

Karim Benzema added two goals as Madrid's speedy forwards picked apart a Bilbao side that proved brittle at the back and is now winless in its last seven games in all competitions.

Gareth Bale set up Ronaldo's goals in the third and 55th minutes. Benzema scored in the 41st and 69th, and Ronaldo completed his hat trick in the 88th.

"We are growing since the start of the season and we have margin to get even better," Ronaldo said.

Madrid rose past Atletico Madrid into fourth place, four points behind leader Barcelona. Valencia is in second place in front of Sevilla in third after it beat Deportivo La Coruna 4-1.

Sevilla eased to the win over Deportivo thanks to Stephane M'Bia's double and goals by Carlos Bacca and Victor "Vitolo" Machin.

Also, Villarreal dealt Celta Vigo its first loss of the season with a 3-1 road win, while Espanyol downed Real Sociedad 2-0 at home in its most solid performance under new coach Sergio Gonzalez.

Since losing back-to-back games, Madrid has won six in a row in all competitions and outscored its opponents 27-5.

Bilbao arrived without injured striker Aduriz Aritz and with its morale down after its 2-1 defeat at BATE of Belarus on Tuesday in the Champions League.

Madrid jumped on its struggling visitors early with an electric start.

Bale found Ronaldo at the far post to head in the opener under goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz, and Benzema rose above his marker to nod in a corner kick to put Madrid in control by halftime.

Bilbao hasn't won at the Santiago Bernabeu since 2005, during Ernesto Valverde's first stint as coach. And once again, Bilbao's attacking strategy and high defensive line gave Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema plenty of room to romp.

Bale streaked down the right side before squaring for the unmarked Ronaldo to make it 3-0. Then it was Ronaldo's turn to beat Bilbao's offside trap and generously lay off for Benzema to get his second goal.

It could have been much worse for Bilbao. Iraizoz made eight saves and a pair of one-handed saves to deny Ronaldo and Bale before the final whistle.

But Iraizoz could do nothing but watch when Pepe's off-target shot hit Ronaldo's arm pressed against his flank and bounce into the net to cap the demolition.

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