Real Madrid CF moved to within four points of second-placed Club Atlético de Madrid after Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick eased them to a 4-1 win against Sevilla FC in which both teams ended with ten men.
Atlético will aim to restore the gap when they visit Rayo Vallecano de Madrid tomorrow, after Unai Emery's Sevilla put up little resistance at the Santiago Bernabéu. Karim Benzema tapped in a Ronaldo cross on 18 minutes to get the hosts rolling and the Portuguese international then added the second himself with a wicked left-footed strike from 20 metres.
Ronaldo burst clear of the visiting defence and slotted in the third just a minute after the restart, before finishing a move he started on 59 minutes for his 24th Liga strike this term. Gonzalo Higuaín was subsequently dismissed for Madrid, while Hedwiges Maduro followed suit for Sevilla, for whom Manu scored a late consolation.
Seven points behind the Merengues in fourth, Málaga CF were obliged to come from behind at Levante UD before recording a 2-1 victory courtesy of an Isco double. They lie two points ahead of Valencia CF, who edged to a 1-0 win at RC Celta de Vigo thanks to Nelson Valdez's added-time winner. Elsewhere, Granada CF earned their second consecutive win to move further of the relegation zone, overcoming RC Deportivo La Coruña 3-0.
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