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The Portuguese hitman ensured that the title race remains red-hot...

Mallorca 1-4 Real Madrid
Primera Division Results/Standings

Real Madrid produced a scintillating second-half performance to crush Mallorca 4-1 and return the gap to league leaders Barcelona to just a single point with two La Liga matches remaining.

Aritz Aduriz gave the Islanders a shock lead, but Cristiano Ronaldo responded in kind with a blistering hat-trick before Gonzalo Higuain added gloss to the scoreline, and Manuel Pellegrini's side ensured that they remain in hot pursuit of the champions.

For Los Blancos, the task was simple, as it has been since they were defeated in El Clasico a month ago; win in any way possible to maintain the pressure on Barcelona going into the penultimate fixture of the season.

But Mallorca, against all odds, remain a serious Champions League qualification contender, but knew that Sevilla’s thumping 5-1 win in Santander against hapless Racing left them a point behind the Andalucians going into the closing stretch.

Therefore, it was all to play for at the Estadio Son Moix, and it was the Islanders who landed a dream start by affronting their illustrious visitors after 15 minutes of play.

A raking corner was met on the volley at the back post by Victor, and his drilled effort fell perfectly to striker Aritz Aduriz, who powered his header through the legs of Iker Casillas and into the net.

Real Madrid were stunned into action. Barcelona were waiting in the wings to celebrate any slip up, but Cristiano Ronaldo in particular seemed intent that there would be no celebrations in Catalonia.

Gonzalo Higuain missed a decent chance, his effort saved by Dudu Aouate, before CR9 once again came to the fore. A cross-field pass from Sergio Ramos in the right-back position caught the Islanders’ defenders napping, and Ronaldo reached the ball before Aouate to loop the ball into the roof of the net.

Madrid were back on level terms, but it represented far from one way traffic from the capital club, and indeed they had to Casillas to thank for reaching half-time on level terms.

The Spanish international shot-stopper was in sensational form, denying Aduriz on two separate occasions before pulling off the save of the match to deny the hugely impressive Borja Valero from close range.

Indeed, on-loan West Bromich Albion playmaker Valero was the stand-out performer of the half, orchestrating proceedings from the Trequartista position behind Aduriz, and for spells of the first half Madrid simply could not get to grips with the man they once let leave the club for free.

CR9 gave the Islanders a torrid evening

Once again, Ronaldo was at the heart of everything, and was everywhere. He harried defenders, ran at full-backs, played incisive passes and crucially was the clinical finisher that Madrid have desperately needed.

After just failing to find Higuain with a low cross, on 56 minutes the Portuguese international once again proved why Madrid were justified to spend extravagantly to secure his services.

It was Ramos who delivered a similar long pass to stretch the Mallorca back-line, and Ronaldo controlled on his chest before poking past Aouate and into the corner. His celebration symbolized his determination for the cause, and his desire to lift silverware in his debut season in Spain.

At 2-1 though, Mallorca had a glimmer of hope to get back into the match, a fact that Ronaldo was all too aware – so he put the game to bed by rounding off a sumptuous hat-trick.

The former Manchester United star charged down Antonio Nunes’ attempted clearance, and showed supreme composure to roll the ball sweetly past Aouate, sealing the points.

Ronaldo had, almost single-handedly, transformed what appeared to be a precarious situation into a comfortable three points, and coach Manuel Pellegrini could only look on and be thankful that he could call on his majestic talent.

The match descended into a procession after Ronaldo’s third, with Pellegrini bringing on Mahamadou Diarra to bolster his midfield and ensure that the now demoralised Mallorca could not spring a surprise comeback.

But there was still time to provide the icing on the cake, delivered by Gonzalo Higuain. The Argentine was not at his best this evening, but he moved on to Guti's through pass and delivered a delicious chip over Aouate, who turned to watch the ball nestle in the corner of his goal. It was a beautiful finish, and provided the perfect bookmark to an inspiring half of football from Los Blancos.

Mallorca looked jaded, Madrid vibrant, and this Saturday's fixtures could prove to be the pivotal weekend of the season for both of these clubs.

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