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Thursday, January 10, 2013
Ronaldo hat-trick fires Real through

ESPN staff

Cristiano Ronaldo put the disappointment of missing out on the Ballon d'Or for a fourth consecutive year behind him, scoring a hat-trick in Real Madrid's 4-0 rout of Celta Vigo in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday.

• Blog: Ballons to that, says Ronaldo
• Copa del Rey: Wednesday review

Ronaldo, 27, took just two minutes to make his mark as he sent a swerving long-range effort past a hapless Sergio Alvarez in the Celta goal.

A deft through ball from Luka Modric allowed Ronaldo to double Real's lead after 24 minutes, but the Portugal international wasn't done there, scoring his third of the match in the 88th minute before Sami Khedira put the result beyond doubt shortly after.

With Barcelona sitting 16 points clear atop the La Liga standings, the Copa del Rey could be Real Madrid's best hope of glory this season and Ronaldo has urged the Los Blancos supporters to have faith in their team.

"We must stand united and we need the fans to support us, there is still a lot to win," he told reporters.

Real assistant coach Aitor Karanka fronted the post-match conference at the Bernabeu and claims the Spanish giants are lifted when Ronaldo is in goalscoring form.

"Today we have seen the team win and the way they have won [is great]," Karanka said. "We were perfectly aware of how Celta play.

"His [Ronaldo's] goals and performance are there for all to see, and his performance the other day [was the same. What we have seen is more than enough to assess it. There are never any doubts about Cristiano.

"Recently when he has not been scoring as normal, the team has felt it. Now that he's back scoring, and the number of goals he's scoring and the confidence it gives him, it's important for the rest of the team."

Karanka reserved some praise for midfielder Luka Modric, who has come under scrutiny since joining Real from Tottenham in the summer.

"It's obvious that Luka has suffered due to not being here during pre-season with all the other players and that the team was not playing well," Karanka said. "When these things happen the player doesn't find his place in the team or have any confidence, but we didn't and we do not doubt the type of performance he can give.

"That's why we signed him and know that we're coming to the final stage we know the type of player he is."

The home crowd were vocal in their support of goalkeeper Iker Casillas before the match and their frustration with manager Jose Mourinho was apparent throughout the 90 minutes.

Mourinho kicked a ball into the Real bench after Ronaldo was denied a clear free kick, but Karanka denies tensions between the manager and the fans will impact his side.

"The manager said it, the fans do what they believe," he said. "He is in charge of working and getting the best for Real Madrid. Being with him you are aware of what he does. And if the fans whistle it's because they are not happy. We are here to work and that's the way we've done it for the last two and a half years."




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