Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick as Real Madrid thrashed Real Sociedad to warm up for Wednesday’s Champions League tie with Paris St-Germain.
Ronaldo set up Lucas Vazquez to head in the first-minute opener, then blasted home from Marcelo’s cross.
Toni Kroos added a third before Ronaldo headed in Luka Modric’s corner.
Jon Bautista pulled one back after the break, but Ronaldo scored his third from close range before Asier Illarramendi’s volleyed consolation.
Confidence booster for PSG tie
With Real Madrid long out of the La Liga title race – they are 16 points behind Barcelona even after this win – the Champions League is their last remaining hope for the season – and perhaps for Zinedine Zidane’s job.
Real became the first team to successfully defend the Champions League last season, both successes coming in Zidane’s two years in charge. But they have been poor domestically this season.
Zidane named a strong side against 14th-placed Real Sociedad, with only Gareth Bale and Casemiro rested from their last match, and he was rewarded with a good performance and result – a couple of defensive blips aside.
They could – and should – have won by more, with Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, who was booed by the home fans after missing a last-minute sitter, also hitting the woodwork.
Bale did come on late on, and had a hand in Ronaldo’s third, his shot being parried straight to the Portuguese to score.
Real – who move up to third in the table – host PSG on Wednesday in the Champions League round of 16 first leg, with the trip to France not until Tuesday, 6 March.
Ronaldo finding domestic form
Ronaldo’s Champions League form was never in doubt this season – he became the first player in history to score in each group game, scoring nine times in the six games.
But he had scored only four La Liga goals before the new year.
However, seven goals in his last four games suggest that was an anomaly for a player who has now scored 33 hat-tricks in the Spanish top flight.
He looked full of confidence as he struck three times, and could have scored more – hitting the post and heading wide from close range towards the end.