Ronaldo's hat trick sees Madrid cruise to 5-2 win over Real Sociedad
Real Madrid strolled to victory over a compliant Real Sociedad, rattling in four first-half goals in an eventual 5-2 win. Cristiano Ronaldo helped himself to a hat trick after Lucas Vazquez struck in the opening minute with Toni Kroos adding a sublime strike. Jon Bautista and Asier Illarramendi replied for the hosts after the break.
Real attacked with fluidity and purpose in the opening 45 and pinned La Real in their own half. Scoring five was the perfect preparation for Paris Saint-Germain in midweek, and most importantly for Zinedine Zidane, his side suffered no fresh injury concerns.
Real started thinking about the Champions League tie after half-time and allowed the visitors a couple of unnecessary goals. La Real had two shots on target and hit the net with both as a direct result of two defensive blackouts.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- The two goals won't worry Zidane too much after his side's first-half performance, he just has to ensure that his players can keep up the same level of intensity for 90 minutes on Wednesday. Bringing Vazquez and Marco Asensio in led to a marked improvement over the Levante game, but it might have been an idea to give Nacho a few minutes at right-back.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Keylor Navas, 6 -- Absolutely nothing to do in the first half and cannot be faulted for either goal, although he might have got closer to the second. Navas had only one save to make otherwise.
DF Dani Carvajal, 7 -- A typically energetic display, Carvajal got up and down his flank tirelessly and pulled the visitors' central defenders out of shape as La Real doubled up on the right. Earned a yellow for a late challenge on David Zurutuza but will be missed against PSG.
DF Raphael Varane, 6 -- Covered the lines well, as he tends to do, but was at fault for standing by and watching as Bautista ran clean through on Navas. Whether or not he thought the striker was offside is irrelevant. The whistle remained silent.
DF Sergio Ramos, 7 -- Imperious in the air and composed on the deck, this was a strangely subdued performance from the captain but it is exactly what his coach will have wanted.
DF Marcelo, 8 -- A timely return to form. Hustling from the outset, Marcelo stole the ball to tee up Karim Benzema and provided an assist for Ronaldo on the overlap in a fine attacking display capped by a solid showing in defence.
MF Toni Kroos, 9 -- Scored a trademark Kroos goal from the edge of the area, hit first time beyond Geronimo Rulli's reach, but lost Juanmi when the La Real forward shaved the post. A 99 percent pass success rate and a game-high five tackles provided the icing on his best performance this year.
MF Luka Modric, 7 -- Was given the freedom of the Bernabeu and used it to good effect, driving Real forward and running rings around the opposition midfield. Took a rare corner and landed it plum on Ronaldo's head for the Portuguese's second.
MF Lucas Vazquez, 8 -- Opened the scoring within a minute and provided some excellent service from the right, assisting Kroos' goal. Brought in to give Gareth Bale a rest for PSG, he instead staked a claim for another start on Wednesday.
MF Marco Asensio, 8 -- A glorious drag-back enabled Real's second by taking two defenders out of the game and his mobility between the lines added another dimension to an attack that has been a little stodgy of late. Like Kroos, his best game for some time.
FW Karim Benzema, 4 -- A hesitant stab onto the woodwork highlighted Benzema's confidence issues and a glaring miss in stoppage time his lack of recent accuracy. Denied a goal by a heroic block from Raul Navas, but this was not a performance to answer growing criticism of his contribution.
FW Cristiano Ronaldo, 10 -- Stood up a beautiful assist for Vazquez and claimed a hat trick, burying a firm shot past Rulli before powering a header home from a corner and completing his treble with a tap-in after the La Real keeper parried Bale's shot. Should have added a fourth with a free header late on, but this was the perfect warm-up for PSG.
MF Isco, 5 -- On for Vazquez, had little impact but showed his usual ability to slow things down when needed.
MF Mateo Kovacic, 6 -- On for Modric just as La Real decided to have a go, broke up one attack with expert timing in a solid 30 minutes.
FW Gareth Bale, NR -- On for Asensio, skewed a shot horribly late on but looked in decent shape ahead of Wednesday and drew the save that handed Ronaldo his third.
Rob Train covers Real Madrid and the Spanish national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Cafc13Rob.