Ronaldo hits hat-trick in Real rout, new low for Neville

Ronaldo-hat-trick Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his second goal | Reuters

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 29th La Liga hat-trick as Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid moved back to within four points of leaders Barcelona with a 6-0 thrashing of Espanyol on Sunday.

However, Gary Neville's terrible La Liga run since taking charge of Valencia continued with a 1-0 loss to Sporting Gijon on Sunday—Los Che's first home defeat since November 2014.

In keeping with their fast starts under new boss Zidane at the Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid raced into a 4-0 half-time lead with Karim Benzema and James Rodriguez's first goal since November adding to Ronaldo's double.

The three-time World Player of the Year sealed his latest La Liga hat-trick nine minutes from time before Oscar Duarte's own goal ensured a repeat scoreline from when the sides met earlier this season.

"We all needed to work harder as a team and now we have a positive mentality," Ronaldo told Canal Plus of Zidane's impact. The pre-season wasn't very good, there was a lot of travelling. Zizou has arrived with different ideas and we need to continue like this."

Victory also moves Real just a point behind local rivals Atletico Madrid after their 2-1 defeat to Barca in a top of the table clash on Saturday.

However, Barcelona also have a game in hand on both Madrid clubs.

"Our objective is to do our best in every game and get to the end of the season with the chance to win the league," said Zidane.

"My expectations for the league are still high, it is not over." Real have now struck 41 goals in seven games at home since being thrashed 4-0 by Barcelona in November.

Zidane's men again made a flying start as Rodriguez's cross from the right picked out Benzema to take his tally for the season to 22 goals in 21 games after seven minutes.

Ronaldo hit five when the sides met earlier in the campaign and was among the goals once more as he doubled the lead from the penalty spot after being brought down by Enzo Roco.

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