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Atlético Madrid v Real Madrid:

Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick gives Real Madrid victory at Atlético

12 Apr 2012 12:26

Source : Afghan Voice Agency (AVA), International Service

Atlético Madrid 1: Falcao 55 Real Madrid 4: Ronaldo 25, 68,(pen) 83,Callejón 87

Atlético Madrid's increasingly agonising wait goes on and so does Real Madrid's title challenge. Cristiano Ronaldo scored three times, two of them quite astonishing goals, to give Real a 4-1 win that saw them re-establish a four-point lead at the top of the table and ease the "anxiety" for José Mourinho's side, if indeed that is what it was CNN reported. 

As for Atlético, there is not so much anxiety as psychosis. They have not beaten their city rivals this century. They could be forgiven for wondering if they ever will. 

Momentary joy was, yet again, snatched away from them and there is a troubling reality too: the gap gets bigger, not smaller. 

These two sides are 40 points apart. Ronaldo scored his 39th, 40th and 41st league goals of a barely believable season. That is only two fewer than the entire Atlético side. 

There was a familiar start to the first of them after 22 minutes. There was a familiar end, too. Ronaldo placed the ball, stood square on to it, legs wide apart and exhaled deeply, then began his run-up. He was 36 yards out but his hard, flat shot fizzed past a poorly positioned wall, seeming to swish slightly, almost imperceptibly right then left then right again, like the tailfin of a dolphin. It moved; Thibault Courtois, previously so secure this season, did not. The ball flew into the unguarded corner. 

Ronaldo had not scored from a free-kick in more than 40 attempts this season but three of his last four had now come that way. It was a stunning goal. An important one, too: three draws in the last five games had cut Madrid's lead from 10 points to four and with Barcelona's victory on Tuesday night it was just one at the start of this match. Even the club director and former player Emilio Butragueño had remarked on the emergence of a little anxiety. 

But it was Ronaldo's night and he climbed one goal above Leo Messi.