Ronaldo erupts for five goals as Real Madrid romps Granada
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo erupted for his first five-goal game on Sunday, ending all talk of a dry spell as the Real Madrid star fueled a 9-1 demolition of Granada to keep the pressure on Spanish league leader Barcelona.
Ronaldo followed Gareth Bale's opener by netting his first three goals in a stunning eight-minute span to decide the match before halftime at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The Ballon d'Or holder added two more goals after the break as Karim Benzema also netted a pair in one of the club's most lopsided wins. Madrid hadn't scored nine goals in a league match in 47 years. Its biggest league victory remains an 11-2 thrashing of Elche in 1960.
Madrid and the Spanish league said this was the first time Ronaldo had scored five goals in a match and it came after a two-month stretch when the Portugal star was merely extremely good after his spectacular year in 2014. That recent dip in form had even earned him unexpected criticism as Lionel Messi took over as the league's most in-form scorer.
Usually protective of his players, Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said on Saturday that Ronaldo "had lowered his productivity" in the past two months as Madrid lost its league lead to Barcelona.
Ronaldo responded in emphatic fashion by netting his 43rd, 44th, 45th, 46th and 47th goals in his 41st game of the season in all competitions.
Ancelotti was almost left without words after the match.
"What more can be said?" Ancelotti asked.
Ronaldo's outburst moved him ahead of Messi in their individual duel to lead the scoring this season with 36 goals to the Barcelona forward's 32.
Ronaldo's 28th game with three-or-more goals for Madrid increased his career tally with the club to 300 goals in 287 games. Only Alfredo Di Stefano with 308 goals in 396 games and Raul Gonzalez with 323 in 741 have more goals in club history.
Madrid's win came one round after losing at Barcelona and pulled it to within one point of the pacesetter before it visits Celta Vigo later. In other games, Valencia needs to beat Villarreal to recover third place and Deportivo La Coruna visits Getafe.
Madrid defender Marcelo said his team showed no mercy out of "respect" for its opponent.
"We started the game with a great attitude and never stopped," Marcelo said. "We knew to respect Granada until the end and that's why we scored so many goals."
Granada goalkeeper Oier Olazabal's long day began in the 25th minute when Bale won Toni Kroos' throughball and was all alone to dribble around Olazabal and poke the ball home.
Five minutes later James Rodriguez marked his first game in two months after recovering from a broken right foot with an exquisite pass to set up Ronaldo for his first goal.
Olazabal was partly at fault for Ronaldo's next two goals. Ronaldo got his second when he blasted in a short clearance by Olazabal in the 36th before he drove a long strike through Olazabal's hands in the 38th for his hat trick. Ronado's treble was not the fastest of the season. Rayo Vallecano's Alberto Bueno notched three goals in six minutes before scoring a fourth in a 4-2 win over Levante in February.
Benzema got into the act with a goal in the 52nd. Ronaldo headed in Bale's pass two minutes later, and Benzema's deflected shot found the net in the 56th.
Roberto Ibanez scored for Granada in the 74th.
But Diego Mainz scored an own goal with seven minutes left before Ronaldo got his final goal against Granada's demoralized defense in the 90th.
"This is the biggest blow I have ever had, either as a player or a coach," said Granada's veteran manager Abel Resino, whose team was left in the relegation zone.