MADRID- If Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti meant to spark Cristiano Ronaldo into life by criticising the Portugal forward for a recent drop in form before Sunday's La Liga game against Granada it certainly had the desired effect.
Ancelotti noted in his Saturday news conference previewing the game at the Bernabeu that Ronaldo had been outshone by Barcelona forward Lionel Messi as the European champions stumbled through February and March.
Ronaldo responded in style against second-from-bottom Granada, netting five goals for the first time in his career as Real romped to a 9-1 victory, their biggest win in La Liga in almost half a century.
His three goals in eight minutes in the first half constituted his fastest ever hat-trick and he added two more in the second period in a scintillating display that took his tally for the season in Spain's top flight to 36 goals.
He is four ahead of Messi at the top of the scoring chart ahead of Barca's game at Celta Vigo later on Sunday and has scored more goals this term than 53 of the 98 teams in Europe’s top five leagues.
"He improved along with the rest of the players," Ancelotti told a post-match news conference. "It is good for him and good for the team."
Sunday's crushing win lifted second-placed Real to within a point of leaders Barca, who lost 1-0 at home to Celta in November but are on a seven-match winning streak in all competitions.