Gareth Bale took his tally to eight goals in his last seven games with a hat-trick as Real Madrid shrugged off the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo to beat Valladolid 4-0.
With the Portuguese sidelined by a slight muscle strain, Bale proved to be decisive as he headed home the opener after Diego Marino could only parry Angel di Maria’s cross.
Three minutes later the Welshman teed up Karim Benzema to double Madrid’s lead with a wonderful in-swinging cross that the Frenchman bulleted home.
Bale grabbed his second of the game when Carlos Pena could only turn Marcelo’s cross into the path of the grateful former Tottenham man to slot home.
And Marcelo was again the provider as Bale completed his first hat-trick in Spanish football with a simple left-footed finish a minute from time.
Victory moved Real to within three points of leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, who were also 2-0 victors over Elche on Saturday.
Bale claimed he didn’t feel any added pressure in the absence of Ronaldo, but admitted to being desperate to seal his first Madrid hat-trick after registering his second of the evening with still 26 minutes to go.
“I didn’t feel any pressure to be honest, I just want to go out there and enjoy my football and play as well as I can. I always try to do that and thankfully I got a hat-trick.
Earlier, Atletico moved level on points with Barcelona at the top of the table after goals from Koke and Diego Costa gave them a hard-fought 2-0 win at Elche.
After a first-half devoid of clear-cut scoring opportunities, Atletico took the lead on 63 minutes when Koke bundled home from close range when Manuel Herrera could only parry Raul Garcia’s shot from distance.