The Portuguese breaks the fifty goal mark for the season to fire Jose Mourinho's side to victory at Vicente Calderon
Real Madrid restored its four-point lead at the top of the Spanish Primera Division with a 4-1 victory over Atletico Madrid at Vicente Calderon on Wednesday evening.
Cristiano Ronaldo was the star of the derby, netting a fantastic hat trick to cancel out Radamel Falcao's secondhalf header to give the league leaders a vital victory.
The hosts made a bright start to the match, and put their rivals under heavy pressure through high tempo pressing of the ball, which left the Real Madrid players slightly shaken. The intensity in their play nearly paid off just eight minutes into the match when Radamel Falcao broke through down the right and fizzed a deflected shot at Casillas' near post, but the goalkeeper done well to tip it round the post.
The derby controversy did not take long to occur, as just after the 20-minute mark Real Madrid felt it should have been awarded a penalty. Ronaldo drove towards the Atletico defense and jinked in between the challenges of Gabi and Juanfran before going down, but the referee waved play on.
Jose Mourinho's side managed to weather the early storm by Atletico and took the lead through a spectacular Ronaldo freekick in the 25th minute. Karim Benzema went down after a foul by Luis Perea around 30 yards from goal, and the Portuguese stepped up to dip an unstoppable strike into the bottom right corner.
The visitors had a golden opportunity to double their lead eight minutes later when Di Maria picked out an unmarked Benzema in the box with a superb cross but the Frenchman was unable to get a true connection on the ball and the chance was squandered.
Much like the beginning of the game, the home side came out of the blocks well at the start of the half and was able to snatch an equalizer 10 minutes into the second period. Adrian found space at the byline down the left-hand side and clipped a cross into the box for Falcao, who firmly headed the ball into the corner to make it 1-1.
Atletico looked buoyed by the equalizing goal, but its ascendancy was abruptly halted in the 68th minute when Real Madrid took the lead, again through Ronaldo. The Portuguese took advantage of some unsure defending by the hosts to turn inside from the left and bullet another screamer into the top corner.
Real Madrid was gifted the chance to put the points in the bag seven minutes from time when Diego Godin blatantly shoved Gonzalo Higuain in the back inside the box. Ronaldo stepped up to coolly slot home and bag his 52nd goal of the season.
Further misery was heaped on Atletico five minutes from time when substitute Jose Callejon strode through the center and slid the ball through the legs of Thibaut Courtois.
Real Madrid remains top of La Liga with a four goal advantage over rival Barcelona. Atletico Madrid remains in seventh place on 42 points.