Ronaldo the hero for Real
MADRID - Cristiano Ronaldo fired Real Madrid to the top of La Liga with a superb 14-minute hat-trick in a 4-0 win at Malaga as Barcelona were held 0-0 in a stormy encounter at home to Sevilla on Saturday.
Gonzalo Higuain opened the scoring against Malaga and Ronaldo, the world's most expensive player, rattled in three more before the break to take Real's goal tally to 25 from their last six games in all competitions.
Barcelona were denied by an inspired performance from goalkeeper Javi Varas who crowned his display with a stoppage-time penalty save from Lionel Messi as his side finished with nine men at the Nou Camp.
Real climbed to 19 points from eight games, one ahead of Barca. Unbeaten Sevilla are fourth with 16 points and big-spending Malaga are sixth with 13.
Sporting Gijon logged their first win of the season with a 2-0 home victory over promoted Granada, first-half goals from David Barral and Andre Castro dragging them off the foot of the standings and easing the pressure on coach Manuel Preciado.
The Asturians pushed north coast rivals Racing Santander down to 20th on goal difference after Hector Cuper's winless side suffered a 1-0 home defeat to Espanyol.
Both Malaga and Real had penalty appeals waved away in a pulsating start at the Rosaleda, but the hosts were unable to stay the pace.
Higuain rounded the keeper to open the scoring before Ronaldo side-footed in his first and the knockout blow came when Malaga's defence parted for Ronaldo to fire in from outside the area.
The Portuguese wrapped up his hat-trick with a back-heel volley in the 37th minute.