After hat-trick, no one better than Ronaldo at Madrid derby

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November 21, 2016
AP Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a penalty against Atletico Madrid during a Spanish La Liga match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid last Saturday. Ronaldo scored all three goals in Real Madrid's 3-0 victory.

MADRID (AP):

For Cristiano Ronaldo, there's clearly something special about playing against Atletico Madrid.

Ronaldo is used to performing well regardless of the opponents, but the star forward often finds another level against Real Madrid's cross-town rivals.

No one has done better than he has in the Madrid derby, not even the great Alfredo Di StEfano.

With his hat-trick on Saturday in the 3-0 win at the Vicente CalderUn Stadium, Ronaldo reached 18 goals to surpass the former Madrid great as the derby's top all-time goalscorer.

"To score three goals in a game like this is something that only the great players can do," said former Real Madrid forward Emilio ButragueOo, currently a club director. "The great players show what they can do in games of this magnitude. It's a privilege to have a player like Ronaldo playing for this club."

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said Ronaldo's performance on Saturday should "put an end to the debate" about the Best Player of the Year award.

"I never had any doubt in my mind," Zidane said. "He has shown that he deserves it all season long."

Ronaldo's performance was tough on Atletico, coming in the last Spanish league derby at the CalderUn before the club moves into a new venue next season.

A good result at the emotionally charged game was a matter of honour for Atletico players and fans. Watching Madrid run rampant at their ground was tough for the die-hard crowd that has packed the CalderUn for the last 50 years.

Atletico had been doing well against Madrid recently, unbeaten in six league games, but supporters still remember painful defeats in Champions League finals, when Ronaldo played key roles. The 31-year-old forward scored Madrid's final goal in extra time in the 4-1 win in 2014, and converted the decisive penalty kick in the shoot-out in last season's final in Milan.

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