Ronaldo’s hat-trick lifts Real as Barca trio wait on Ballon d’Or

Cristiano Ronaldo got a hat-trick as Real Madrid came from behind last night to beat Villarreal 4-2 at the Bernabeu and stay two points behind leaders Barcelona in La Liga.



Ronaldo twice equalised for the home side in the first half and fired them in front in the 79th minute, before setting up substitute Kaka for the fourth near the end.

Cani had fired Villarreal in front after only seven minutes but Ronaldo equalised two minutes later, tapping in from Mesut Ozil's low cross. Marco Ruben broke the Real offside trap to lob Iker Casillas in the 18th minute but again Ronaldo levelled, heading in from close range at a free-kick just before the break.

Real gradually tightened their grip on the game and it was Ronaldo who reacted quickest in a goalmouth scramble to score late in the second half. He then raced down the left and crossed for Kaka to get his first goal this season since returning from injury.

Barcelona won 4-0 at Deportivo La Coruña on Saturday and will have another cause for celebration tonight, when one of Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi or Xavi will be crowned the winner of the Fifa Ballon d'Or in Zurich.

Two of the Ballon d'Or nominees, Iniesta and Messi, scored in the rout. David Villa and Pedro were also on target for Barça, who have now scored 84 goals this season in all competitions.

In Italy, Serie A leaders Milan needed a 93rd-minute strike from forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic to salvage a point in a thrilling 4-4 draw with Udinese at San Siro yesterday. Argentine striker German Denis's 89th-minute goal looked set to condemn the Rossoneri to their third league defeat at home this season, before Antonio Cassano, with his second late assist in as many games for his new club, sublimely set up Ibrahimovic for the stoppage-time equaliser.

Leonardo's great start as Internazionale manager continued, his resurgent team coming back from a goal down to gain a hard-fought 2-1 victory at Catania.

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