Ronaldo hits 5 for Madrid, Messi lifts Barca over Atletico
BARCELONA, Spain -- Cristiano Ronaldo netted five goals to become Real Madrid’s all-time leading scorer in the Spanish league, while Lionel Messi scored as a substitute to give Barcelona a 2-1 win at Atletico Madrid on Saturday.
Ronaldo recorded his second career five-goal game to lead Madrid’s 6-0 rout at Espanyol, taking his tally to 231 goals in 203 matches and eclipsing Raul Gonzalez’s mark of 228 goals in 550 games.
In the clash between the last two champions, Fernando Torres put Atletico ahead in the 51st minute, only for Neymar to equalize from a free kick four minutes later.
Messi was on the bench following the recent birth of his second son. But he went on for the final half hour and immediately changed the match, scoring the 77th-minute winner from Luis Suarez’s pass.
“When we have the best player with us, we all play better,” Neymar said.
Barcelona moved to the top of the standings with the defending champion’s third win in as many rounds. Madrid was two points behind, and Atletico three behind.
Suarez had the first scoring chance of the match at Vicente Calderon Stadium when he redirected the ball from a corner kick headed on by Rafina off the crossbar in the 24th.
Barcelona’s thin defense was playing already without the suspended Gerard Pique and the injured Dani Alves before it took another hit two minutes later when Thomas Vermaelen needed to be substituted by Jeremy Mathieu.
After a first half dominated by Barcelona, Torres scored on Atletico’s first shot on goal when a series of quick passes led to Tiago Cardoso sending the ball forward for the striker to use one touch to score it off the far post. It was Torres’ 10th goal in 14 career matches against Barcelona.
Atletico’s celebrations didn’t last long, as Neymar earned a foul and converted it into a beautiful goal by striking a free kick over the barrier and beyond the diving reach of goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
Messi then gave Barcelona complete control, almost setting up Neymar before he found his first goal of the season to finish off a team buildup completed by Suarez’s assist.
Also held scoreless in the first two rounds of the season, Ronaldo exploded with a blistering hat trick by the 20th minute, scoring from passes by Luka Modric and Gareth Bale in between a penalty kick.
Ronaldo set up Karim Benzema to make it 4-0 before halftime and scored again in the 61st and 81st to record his 32nd game with three or more goals for Madrid. He has achieved four goals in a match on three occasions for Madrid.
Ronaldo’s latest scoring feat also moved the Ballon d’Or holder into fourth place on the Spanish league all-time scoring list. Messi holds the record with 285.
“In this case, the numbers speak for themselves,” Madrid coach Rafa Benitez said. “He could have scored even more today.”
At both games players wore T-shirts before the match in support of aid efforts to help the thousands of refugees arriving in Europe.
Elsewhere, Paco Alcacer headed in Valencia’s injury-time winner for 1-0 at Sporting Gijon, its first win in three league matches.
Real Sociedad also visited Betis late.