Barcelona: Cristiano Ronaldo netted another hat-trick on Saturday in Real Madrid's 5-1 win over Real Sociedad, as the Portugal forward extended his scoring run to nine goals in his last four games.
Ronaldo's latest bundle of goals took him three past Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa as the leading scorer in the Spanish league this season with 16 through 13 rounds. Ronaldo also tops the Champions League with eight goals.
Madrid's win pulled them to within two points of Atletico and three points behind league leader Barcelona before they have matches on Sunday.
Ronaldo opened the scoring before later adding another goal from the penalty spot and a third with a well-placed free kick. Karim Benzema also kept up his good form by scoring while Gareth Bale set up Sami Khedira for a goal.
Ronaldo will now hope to keep his streak going when Portugal play Sweden in a two-leg playoff on November 15 and 19 with only the winner qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
"It will be a very important tie for us," said Ronaldo. "We want to be in the World Cup and we will try our hardest to get there."
Sociedad never stood a chance at the Santiago Bernabeu against a Madrid side that kept its attack firing away for a fourth straight game while finally shoring up a defence that had become penalty prone with five whistled against it in the previous three games.
"Too many times we were just looking on," said Antoine Griezmann, who scored Sociedad's consolation goal.
Ronaldo lashed a shot off the top of the crossbar in the eighth minute in a warning of what was to come.
He then made sure not to miss in the 12th when Benzema spotted him switched to the right side of the attack with a floated pass that Ronaldo pulled in and blasted by Sociedad goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.
Ronaldo returned the favor four minutes later by dribbling down the left flank and squaring for Benzema to volley in his fourth goal in as many games.
A stunned Sociedad helped concede the third goal when Ronaldo's low shot hit Markel Bergara's arm inside the area. Instead of drilling his spot kick, Ronaldo lured Bravo into diving to one side while he gently placed the ball down the middle.
Bale missed a chance to take part in the rout by hitting the sidenetting, but he made up for his miss by finding Khedira alone on the edge of the box for the midfielder's first goal of the campaign in the 36th.
Sociedad hadn't threatened the hosts' area until the 61st when Griezmann ran on to a pass awkwardly headed back by Madrid defender Pepe that he skillfully chipped over goalie Diego Lopez.
That gave Griezmann eight goals in the league, drawing the Sociedad forward level with Barcelona's Lionel Messi for the league's third-leading scorer.
The victory was secure but Ronaldo wasn't done and curled a free kick over the barrier in the 76th, as a flat-footed Bravo was turned into a bystander.
On Sunday, Barcelona visit Real Betis while Atletico travel to fourth-place Villarreal. Also, Espanyol host Sevilla and Valencia welcomes Valladolid.
Granada beat Malaga 3-1 on Friday, when Almeria won 1-0 at Osasuna.