Cristiano Ronaldo ran rampant as he took his La Liga tally to 13 goals in six appearances while notching up his third hat-trick in four games as Real Madrid powered past Athletic Bilbao at home in a 5-0 victory on Sunday.
A vibrant Ronaldo, who matched the La Liga record of 22 hat-tricks jointly held by Alfredo Di Stefano and Telmo Zarra, headed Real in front after latching onto Gareth Bale's lofted cross to the back post in the third minute at the Bernabeu.
Karim Benzema made it 2-0 four minutes before half-time when he planted a powerful header into the ground which bounced up past Gorka Iraizoz from a corner and Bale, with a delicate flick into the feet of Benzema, started a move which led to the third as he sped clear to set up Ronaldo for his second 10 minutes into the second half.
The world player of the year broke the offside trap, uncommonly but unselfishly squared for Benzema to make it 4-0 in the 69th minute. Ronaldo completed his inevitable treble two minutes from time when the Portuguese forward got lucky as the ball bounced off his body into the net from Benzema's awry shot.
Gorka Iraizoz in the Bilbao goal prevented further punishment but it is clear on the evidence of the woeful defending and lack of composure in attack that the Basque side's early season stumble will be hard to put behind them if no improvement is made.
“We still have room for improvement,” Ronaldo, 29, with yet another match ball under his arm, said.
“The team played a good match and scored five goals without conceding, we are very pleased,” he added.
The win lifts Real above Atletico Madrid into fourth place on 15 points following the champions' 3-1 defeat to high-flying Valencia on Saturday. Bilbao sit third bottom with 4 points from seven games as their struggles continue, a complete contrast to their start last season.