Gareth Bale makes his mark but Ronaldo steals the show
Welshman finally shows Real Madrid what he can do, but he can't outshine Portuguese team-mate
Real Madrid 7 Sevilla 3. Gareth Bale finally brought the Bernabeu to life with a brace of goals against Sevilla but the Welshman was still upstaged by Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese star scored a memorable hat-trick in Real's 7-3 thrashing and celebrated the first of three goals with a military salute, a mischievous riposte to Fifa President Sepp Blatter.
Earlier in the week Blatter was forced to apologise to Ronaldo after making a series of scurrilous remarks about the former Manchester United striker, including calling him the 'Commander'.
Ronaldo was furious when footage emerged of the incident at the Oxford Union but his response on Wednesday night was emphatic, and he becomes only the second player in history to score a hat-trick against the same side for four consecutive seasons. Real's legendary Alfredo Di Stefano achieved the same feat against Las Palmas in the late 1950s.
For Bale, however, the evening was just as encouraging, the first time he has shown Real fans why president Florentino Perez forked out around £85m for his services in the summer. He opened the scoring on 13 minutes, controlling Karim Benzema's low cross in the penalty area with one touch before curling the ball into the top corner of the Sevilla net. Ten minutes later Bale doubled Real's advantage with a 30-yard free kick that took a wicked deflection of Alberto Moreno.
Ronaldo made it 3-0 on the half-hour mark from the penalty spot when Fernando Navarro brought down Isco but Sevilla then scored twice before the break to breathe fresh life into the La Liga clash.
But Bale took control of the game in the second half, teeing up Benzema for Real's fourth goal and then supplying Ronaldo on the hour mark with the pass that made it 5-2 to the hosts.
Though Sevilla pulled another goal back on 63 minutes, Ronaldo scored his third of the night ten minutes later and then Benzema headed in a Marcelo cross to bring an extraordinary game to a close. The victory moves Real Madrid to within four points of Barcelona at the top of La Liga, though the leaders have played a game more than their fierce rivals.
"Tonight everyone saw the real Gareth Bale playing with confidence and great skill," Real coach Carlo Ancelotti said later. "He played really well, showing fantastic skills. It takes time (to adapt) but it was a necessity. Now he doesn't have problems physically and he is improving his confidence, so he will be very important for us in the future." ·