Where there’s Cristiano Ronaldo there’s hope.
Real Madrid’s all-time record scorer helped his side beat Eibar 4-0, became the first player ever in Europe’s top leagues to score 30 goals in six straight seasons and made the club’s supporters believe a Champions League miracle might be possible on Tuesday.
This was the prelude to the game that manager Zinedine Zidane has already admitted will decide their season.
Madrid need to come back from their 2-0 reverse against Wolfsburg in the Champions League quarter-finals, and they restored pride and confidence here by brushing aside Eibar after taking a 3-0 lead in the first 20 minutes.
Ronaldo weighed in with two assists and scored his 30th goal in the league this season, making him the first player to reach that figure in six seasons running in one of Europe’s top leagues. Lionel Messi has managed it in four but Ronaldo has been doing it since the 2010 campaign.
He got 40 in that season, 46 in the next, 34 in the next, then 31, followed by 48. With six games left he is unlikely to top last season’s record but he does lead La Liga’s top-scorer table once more.
His goal was the third of the game, with Dani Carvajal finding Jese who crossed for the Portuguese to control and shoot past Aitor Riesgo in the Eibar goal.
Ronaldo had made the second goal, running onto Isco’s fine pass and crossing for Lucas Vazquez to finish. He was also the architect of the fourth just before half-time, carrying the ball deep into Eibar’s half and setting up Jese.