Cristiano Ronaldo scores hat-trick as Madrid blanks Atletico in derby
Cristiano Ronaldo scores in the 23rd, 71st and 77th minutes at Vicente Calderon Stadium. AP

MADRID — In a game that meant so much for Atletico Madrid, it was Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid celebrating when it was all over.

Ronaldo scored a hat trick and Madrid handed rival Atletico a painful 3-0 loss on Saturday in its last Spanish league derby before leaving Vicente Calderon Stadium next season.

Madrid's gap to Atletico increased to nine points, putting the rival's title chances in jeopardy after only 12 matches.

The victory also snapped Madrid's six-game winless streak against the city rival, and gave the club a four-point lead over Barcelona.

Atletico played well in the emotionally charged game at the Calderon, and was in control of most everything except the scoreboard.

"It was a tough night," Atletico midfielder Jorge "Koke" Resurreccion said. "We wanted to win it for our fans."

Ronaldo opened the scoring in the 23rd from a free kick that deflected off the wall and wrong-footed goalkeeper Jan Oblak. Ronaldo converted a penalty kick in the 71st after he was fouled by Stefan Savic, and closed the scoring in the 77th off a cross by Gareth Bale.

"We played a great game against a complicated opponent in a stadium where it's difficult to win," Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. "Very few teams can win 3-0 here. It's not easy."

Madrid had two huge wins against Atletico in Champions League finals, including last season, but it hadn't beaten the rival in La Liga since 2013, when Jose Mourinho was in charge of Madrid.

Atletico had won four and drawn two of the last six league games between them.

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