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Cristiano Ronaldo hits hat-trick as Real Madrid beat Atletico

Ronaldo hits SEVENTH hat-trick of season as Madrid sink Atletico to hold off Barca

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UPDATED:

22:48 GMT, 11 April 2012

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his seventh hat-trick of the season as Real Madrid beat city rivals Atletico 4-1 to restore their four-point lead at the top of the Primera Division.

The Portuguese's swerving 30-yard free-kick that gave the visitors the lead on 25 minutes was a rare moment of quality in a disjointed first half.

Things livened up after the break when Radamel Falcao headed in from Adrian Lopez's cross, but Real responded positively and after wasting a host of opportunities they retook the lead when Ronaldo dipped another stunning effort over Thibaut Courtois 22 minutes from time.

Unstoppable: Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates as Real Madrid beat city rivals Atletico

Unstoppable: Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates as Real Madrid beat city rivals Atletico

The former Manchester United man then rounded off his hat-trick with a penalty on 82 minutes and Jose Maria Callejon added a fourth five minutes later.

Valencia moved back into third place, and an automatic Champions League berth, with a 4-1 win of their own over Rayo Vallecano at the Mestalla.

Look and learn, Lionel: The former Manchester United forward rivals Messi for potency

Look and learn, Lionel: The former Manchester United forward rivals Messi for potency

Jonas fired Valencia ahead of 40 minutes before they moved up a gear after the interval, Jordi Alba doubling their advantage midway through the second half.

Diego Costa pulled one back almost straight away, but a Jonas penalty and further strike from Pablo Hernandez made the points safe. Sporting Gijon gave their survival hopes a welcome lift as a late goal from Gaston Sangoy saw them come from behind to see off Champions League chasing Levante 3-2.

Take that: Ronaldo smashed in a free-kick to open the scoring at the Vicente Calderon

Take that: Ronaldo smashed in a free-kick to open the scoring at the Vicente Calderon

Valdo scored one and set up another for Arouna Kone as the Valencia club twice went in front, but they were pegged back by goals from Oscar Trejo and Alberto Lora. And Sangoy struck six minutes from time to see Sporting end a run of five league matches without a win.

Jaime Romero scored and was then sent off as 10-man Granada were denied a vital drew 2-2 with Athletic Bilbao.

Spot on: Ronaldo completed his hat-trick with a penalty late in the game

Spot on: Ronaldo completed his hat-trick with a penalty late in the game

Romero grabbed a second-minute opener before he was dismissed shortly before the break for violent conduct.

Despite being a man down, Alexandre Geijo doubled the home side's lead in the second half before Fernando Llorente pulled one back for Athletic nine minutes before the end.

Markel Susaeta then levelled the scores for the visitors in the 89th minute.