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Bale scores first hat-trick for Real

Madrid: Gareth Bale struck his first hat-trick for Real Madrid and set up another goal in a thumping 4-0 La Liga victory over Real Valladolid on Saturday.

It was only the second hat-trick ever in La Liga by a British player, with Gary Lineker scoring one for Barcelona in 1987.

With the injured Cristiano Ronaldo still absent, the Welshman knocked home two rebounds and slid in the third for a perfect treble at the Bernabeu, having also set up their second goal with a cross for Karim Benzema to head home.

“His period of adaptation is now over. He now is confident and doing well,” Real coach Carlo Ancelotti said.

“We are on a good run and playing with personality and consistency. I don’t know whether it was our best game because recently we are playing very well,” he said.

Real are third and three points behind leaders Barcelona and second placed Atletico Madrid.

Atletico have 40 points from 15 games after a 2-0 victory over Elche with Diego Costa returning from injury to continue his fine scoring run. Koke netted from close range after 63 minutes against a battling Elche and Costa struck 11 minutes later.

“We need to continue on the same lines and be realistic,” coach Diego Simeone said. “It is a good moment for the fans, but we still need to go match by match,” he added, with Atletico having only dropped five points so far.       (Reuters)