Alavés 1-4 Real Madrid: full-time summary
Cristiano Ronaldo enjoyed a return to scoring form as Real Madrid went provisionally three points clear at the top of LaLiga by beating Deportivo Alavés.
On a run of two goals in seven Real games and jeered by sections of the support against Athletic Club last weekend, he hit a hat-trick as Real won 4-1 in Vitoria.
Alavés in front inside six minutes
It was a margin of victory that was harsh on an Alavés side who produced a lively, highly creditable display, taking a surprise early lead through Deyverson.
Cristiano turns scoreboard on its head
Ten minutes later, however, the visitors earned a disputed penalty as Deyverson was penalised for handball, and Cristiano converted from the spot to level.
Real lost defender Pepe to injury before Ronaldo bagged his second with a shot that took a deflection off Alavés centre-back Zouhair Feddal.
The hosts spurned a golden chance to equalise immediately after the break when Víctor Camarasa found himself one on one with Navas, only to see his effort kept out.
Ronaldo penalty saved, lovely Morata goal finishes it
With just over ten minutes remaining, Fernando Pacheco's stop prevented Cristiano from scoring another penalty after a foul by Daniel Torres, but soon after substitute Álvaro Morata expertly lobbed the Alavés keeper to clinch the points.
CR7 completes hat-trick
Ronaldo then exchanged passes in the box with Marcelo and fired in the fourth, sealing his first LaLiga treble since March - and securing a scoreline that flattered Zinedine Zidane's men, but ensured their fifth straight win in all competitions.
Here's how it happened:
Alavés 1-4 Real Madrid: second half
Peeep! That's full time!
Min 92 | That's Cristiano's first treble for Madrid since demolishing Wolfsburg in April, and his 38th in total in Spanish football.
Min 90 | Three minutes added on. Christian Santos came on for Torres a few minutes ago, I neglected to mention.
Min 87 | Goooooal! Real make it four! Cristiano exchanges passes with Marcelo in the box and wallops it past Pacheco from by the penalty spot for his hat-trick. Ever so slightly flattering, that scoreline.
Min 86 | Bale trots off for a rest and Lucas Vázquez skips on.
Min 84 | Gooooooal! 3-1 to Real Madrid! Marcelo pings a route-one ball over the top for Morata o run onto, with Alexis giving furious but futile chase - and the striker doesn't even bother taking a touch before dinking a delightful lobbed finish over Pacheco. Wonderful finish! "Madre mía!" shouts AS's Tomás Roncero over the other side of the newsroom. Well quite, Thomas.
Min 81 | It's possibly not the best time for this, I admit. But anyway, here goes: Cristiano's goals this afternoon mean he's scored against all 31 teams he's faced in the top flight. The full story on that is here.
Min 80 | Kiko Femenía is into the book for giving the referee a little bit too much lip after a Danilo challenge on Krsticic.
Min 79 | Pacheco saves Cristiano's spot-kick! The former Real Madrid man guesses right and palms out the Portuguese's effort, which wasn't as far into the corner as he'd have liked.
Min 78 | Penalty to Real Madrid! Kroos swings over the corner and Daniel Torres is all over Cristiano! That certainly seems a clearer pen than the other one.
Min 76 | The ref clealry gives a throw-in the wrong way, awarding it to Real. Pellegrino is incandescent - and is sent to the stands! "Why?!" he can be seen mouthing.
Min 74 | He looks to be OK. 15 minutes to go, and it it stays this way it'll be five wins in a row in all competitions for Real, and six on the trot against Alavés.
Min 72 | Navas has to be quick to nip out and steal the ball from the on-rushing Deyverson's toes - but the Brazilian is flagged offside. Keylor has taken a knock for his troubles, and is in need of treatment.
Min 69 | Cristiano has clearly been watching too much of his pal Nacho in action. Kovacic crosses to the far post, where CR7 launches himself into a scissor-kick that is high wide and handsome.
Min 66 | It is indeed Benzema who is replaced by Morata, while Alavés introduce Katai for Edgar.
Min 65 | Varane plays an inch-perfect pass into the box to no-one in particular, while Morata takes a last swig of water and prepares to come on. I'm going to go out on a limb and say Karim Benzema is the chief candidate to be hooked.
Min 64 | Alavés are preparing a second sub, with Aleksandar Katai in line to be thrust into the action.
Min 62 | First change for Alavés as Krsticic comes on for Manu García.
Min 60 | Bale is the first Real Madrid player to see yellow after an ever so slightly wild lunge on Femenía. He makes furious I-got-the-ball motions with his hands, but he's fooling no-one. It's a promising position for Alavés to get it into the proverbial mixer, but Camarasa's delivery is disappointing, failing to clear the first man.
Min 59 | Álvaro Morata, Marco Asensio and Lucas Vázquez are all gamely warming up over on the touchline, while Nenad Krsticic is set to come on for Alavés.
Min 57 | Now Bale has a dig, but it's over.
Min 56 | There's a shooting opportunity for Cristiano as Kovacic wins it back high up the pitch and feeds the forward, who drifts in from the left channel and bends it wide of Pacheco's far post.
Min 54 | Close again from Alavés! Deyverson cuts inside Varane and aims a low, left-footed effort at Navas' near post, but 'the Cat' is down low and holds on.
Min 53 | Theo becomes the third Alavés man to go into the book for handling as he went down to challenge Danilo. Moments later, Kovacic fancies a crack from the edge of the box, but pumps it high.
Min 47 | There were no changes at half time, by the way.
Min 46 | What a chance for Alavés! They should be level in the opening seconds of the half! Deyverson plays it across to Camarasa, who's arriving ten yards or so outside of the box. He absolutely does Varane, poking it past the Frenchman and finding himself one on one with Navas - but the Costa Rican saves!
Peeep! The second half is underway.
Alavés 1-2 Real Madrid: half-time summary
Real Madrid go in ahead, having recovered from Deyverson's opener with a brace from Cristiano Ronaldo, who'll be feeling much better about himself now. Other than their horrendously ropey defending on the home team's goal - that's now nine straight games without a clean sheet for Real - the chief blackspot from the 45 for Zinedine Zidane's men is that injury to Pepe. After Sevilla's draw at Sporting Gijón earlier today, a win will see Madrid go provisionally three points clear at the top of LaLiga, with the rest of the chasing pack still to play.
Over in the Alavés dressing room, one suspects Mauricio Pellegrino is busy telling his players to get the ball to Theo Hernández as fast as they bleedin' can. The youngster terrorised the Real backline for much of that first half.
Alavés 1-2 Real Madrid: first half
Peeep! That's half time in Vitoria.
Min 45 | One minute of added time. Bale has the chance to square it for Cristiano in the box, but it's blocked; the Wales man picks it up again, finds a yard of space on the edge of the area...and curls it well off target.
Min 43 | Ronaldo's brace has taken his form of two in seven to the altogether healthier-looking (if still not quite on a par with his usual, Championship Manager-esque figures) four in eight. Although if you factor in international appearances, he came into today on seven in seven and has just moved to nine in eight. Stats, eh.
Min 40 | Daniel Torres gets a yellow card for a hand-off on Isco that Paul Gascoigne would have been proud of. Up the other end, Cristiano is now brimming with confidence and tries his luck from range - unsuccessfully so, though.
Min 37 | Feddal rises highest for Alavés to head a corner from the right towards goal...but it's well wide.
Min 36 | That's Ronaldo's first double of the season and takes him to four LaLiga goals.
Min 34 | Gooooal to Real Madrid! Cristiano gets his second and Los Blancos have turned it around! He picks it up in the right channel outside of the box, gets it out of his feet, and - via a fairly juicy deflection off Feddal's foot - beats Pacheco and finds the far corner!
Min 31 | The man given his marching orders by the fellow in black (well, pinkish red) was one of Pellegrino's assistants, our colleagues on Spanish TV tell us.
Min 30 | Deyverson is the first player this season to have scored against both Real Madrid and Barcelona, notes the ever-insightful OptaJose.
Min 29 | Theo again wreaks unbridled havoc on the left, and earns Alavés a corner - but Alexis can't quite get on the end of it.
Min 28 | Ufff! Marcelo fires it low into the box from the byline, but a blue and white shirt gets there first to clear at the near post. Alavés then break forward with menace down the right, but Varane beats Camarasa to Edgar's cross.
Min 25 | I've looked at a couple of replays of that penalty decision, and I confess I ain't sure what to say. It seems to strike Deyverson's head and a bit of elbow, so I guess by the letter of the law it's a pen. But that's seeing it for the third or fourth time in slow motion; watching it in real time, the contact with his arm is barely discernible.
Min 22 | Nacho Fernández is preparing to come on, and it's Pepe who's the man with the problem. On trots Real's Hugo Sánchez impersonator.
Min 20 | Now Alavés are asking for a penalty, but this time the ref says nope. Theo - who has had Danilo on toast so far - bursts past the Brazilian on the left, he sticks his foot, Theo falls...but it's only a corner - which is headed over. Meanwhile, someone on the Alavés bench - I didn't quite see who - is told to do one to the stands for his protests.
Min 17 | Cristiano strides up to it, and sends Pacheco the wrong way! 1-1 at Mendizorroza!
Min 16 | Real win a free-kick just to the right of centre, and Bale is standing over it. He runs up, it hits the wall...and the referee has given a penalty! Handball against Deyverson! And a yellow card for his troubles! The Alavés players are absolutely fuming.
Min 15 | Bale almost found the head of Cristiano with one of his Delap/Challiner-esque long throws there, but the Portuguese couldn't quite get on the end of it.
Min 13 | Theo is causing Madrid all kinds of trouble down the left. He whips in another cross with his left for the head of Edgar Méndez - but he nods across the face of Navas' goal and wide.
Min 12 | Bale has the ball in the net...but it won't count! Isco fed the run of the Welshman, who cut inside and fired in low past Fernando Pacheco, but he was offside when he received the pass.
Min 9 | Theo immediately gets another crossing chance, but sends it long and high.
Min 7 | Goooooal! Alavés take the lead! The hosts hit Real with a lighting break! Camarasa feeds Theo Hernández motoring forward on the left, and the on-loan Atlético man pins a low cross into the middle. Keylor Navas and Raphael Varane make an almight hash of it, leaving the ball to fall for Deyverson waiting at the back post, and the Brazilian takes a touch before driving into the unguarded net! Well, well, well.
Min 4 | It's been pretty much 100% Real Madrid possession in the opening exchanges. Los Blancos carve out their first concrete moment of danger, win a free-kick for Toni Kroos to swing into the box from the left. The German's delivery is touched on by Gareth Bale, finding Pepe in space around the six-yard box...but the defender is offside.
Peeeep! Mr Sánchez Martínez gives his whistle a firm old tooting and we are underway!
Two mins to kick-off | The teams are out, the sun is shining in Vitoria, and a full Mendizorroza looks bloomin' resplendent.
Alavés - Real Madrid: confirmed line-ups
Alavés XI: Pacheco, Femenía, Alexis, Feddal, Raúl García, Theo, Manu García, Torres, Camarasa, Edgar, Deyverson
Real Madrid XI: Navas, Danilo, Pepe, Varane, Marcelo, Kovacic, Kroos, Isco, Bale, Benzema, Cristiano
Alavés - Real Madrid: latest news
16:08 | For those Alavés fans covering their eyes at that cheeky glance at the history books, here's a ray of sunny hope for ya: Real have kept just two clean sheets so far this term, and have failed to complete a shut-out at the back since beating Espanyol in September, a full eight games ago.
16:07 | And Madrid's most recent visit to Mendizorroza came in September 2005: a 3-0 win for Los Merengues which is chiefly remembered for Ronaldo and his co-Brazilians' 'cockroach' goal celebration, which led then Alavés president/coach/cameraman Dmitry Piterman to brand them 'clowns'.
16:00 | Quarter of an hour until kick-off in the Basque capital, and just time to gaze misty-eyed at the history books. And boy, do they make unwelcome reading for the hosts. In the sides' last five meetings, Real have won each time - never failing to score at least three goals. Ouch.
15:28 | Mauricio Pellegrino makes four changes to the team that lost to Real Sociedad, lining up with what looks like a five-man backline to blunt the visitors' firepower and bid to protect Alavés' so far unbeaten home record in LaLiga this term.
15:16 | Real Madrid's team is out: not entirely surprisingly, there are a fair few changes to the side that started the midweek walloping of lowly Cultural Leonesa. Keylor Navas returns in goal, Raphael Varane and Marcelo come back into the defence, Mateo Kovacic starts in midfield and the 'BBC' are restored to the attack.
14:55 | Despite being a recently promoted side to LaLiga, Alavés pulled off a major shock in early Spetember winning 1-2 at Camp Nou.
14:20 | Cristiano's drought is remarkable for the high standard the player from Madeira has set over his career, scoring just one goal of Real Madrid's last 20.
13:45 | How does our "in house expert" see today's game at Mendizorroza finishing? Here are his matchday 10 LaLiga predictions.
Alavés - Real Madrid: possible starting line-ups
Real Madrid: Navas, Danilo, Pepe, varane, Marcelo, Kroos, Isco, Kovacic, Bale, Benzema, Cristiano
Alavés - Real Madrid: match preview
Mauricio Pellegrino has a full complement of players to choose from, with one notable exception: Marcos Llorente, the on-loan Real midfielder who has been the subject of plenty of speculation in Casemiro’s absence.
The loss of Llorente is a significant one; only Fernando Pacheco and Víctor Laguardia have featured more for Alavés this season. Pellegrino will have been well aware of the clause in the Real player’s contract though and Daniel Torres or Nenad Krstitic can come in to a four man-midfield if the Alavés coach opts for five at the back as he did against Barcelona and Sevilla. That would require Kiko Femenía and on-loan Atlético full back Theo Hernández to push up on the flanks and pin back their opposite numbers, a task made slightly easier in the absence of Carvajal.
Against both Sevilla and Barça, Alavés lost by a single goal and it may be a close one again in the Mendizorrotza. The home side will not give an inch and it will up to Zidane to find a way to break them down.
Zinedine Zidane has ridden out the first contretemps of his tenure at Real Madrid after seeing his side draw four consecutive games in all competitions. A 6-1 drubbing of Real Betis in the Benito Villamarín was followed by a 5-1 victory over Legia Warsaw in the Champions League, a hard-fought 2-1 win against Athletic and a 7-1 stroll against Segunda B outfit Cultural Leonesa in the Copa del Rey.
“Crisis” averted? Only partially. Nothing less than a resounding triumph was expected, or would have been tolerated, over Legia and Cultural, while Betis were steamrollered in the first half in Seville but still managed to cause plenty of problems for Real at the back after the restart. Athletic, by far the toughest opponent of the four, were unfortunate not to leave the capital with a point. Another aspect of all of those score lines stands out: Real have failed to keep a clean sheet since a 2-0 win at Espanyol in mid-September and have only kept two in total so far this season.
Zidane will be without injured captain Sergio Ramos and first-choice right back Dani Carvajal, who is suspended, for the trip to the Mendizorrotza and is also missing his two midfield fulcrums, Luka Modric and Casemiro. The Croatian provides the attacking impetus and an extra layer of cover for the back four, while the Brazilian is Real’s only genuine defensive midfielder. It is no coincidence that Real’s two shut-outs this season have featured the number 14. When he was injured during the Espanyol game, Zidane had the luxury of bringing Toni Kroos off the bench.
Now, the German is expected to fill the void left by his habitual midfield partners with a single pair of boots, which is proving to be a bit of a tall order. Isco has improved considerably in the defensive aspect and Marco Asensio is also willing to put in the hard yards but Real have struggled to dominate in the centre in recent games and that is where Alavés may be able to tip the balance of the game. If only they had a natural replacement for the Brazilian…
Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored one of Real’s last 20 goals, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema will return to the starting line-up for Real, with Álvaro Morata and Lucas Vázquez, who have been extremely impressive in recent cameos, starting on the bench.