MADRID • Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo sent a warning to Barca just two weeks ahead of El Clasico by storming back into form as the forward scored twice in a 5-0 thrashing of Sevilla on Saturday.
Real's spirits were lifted even before kick-off as the Portuguese showed off his record-equalling fifth Ballon d'Or to the Bernabeu.
He had been widely criticised in Spain for his domestic form this season but side-footed home a through ball from Marco Asensio to score his side's second before thumping in the third from the penalty spot.
"After watching the game, we can safely say we have got him back," said Real boss Zinedine Zidane of Ronaldo, who before the Sevilla game had scored only twice in the league as Real got off to their worst start in a decade.
Nacho opened the scoring for the hosts, while Toni Kroos and Achraf Hakimi rounded off the rout as Real moved to within five points of Barcelona, who visited Villarreal yesterday (this morning, Singapore time).
Valencia provisionally narrowed the gap between themselves and the LaLiga leaders to two points as Dani Parejo's penalty 10 minutes from time earned a 2-1 win over Celta Vigo.
Celta raged against referee Jose Luis Munuera Montero for awarding Valencia the spot kick when Jose Gaya went to ground after a challenge by Pablo Hernandez.
"We didn't drop points today, we had them taken off us by that person (the referee)," said Celta captain Hugo Mallo. "He robbed us."
The visitors had equalised through Iago Aspas early in the second half after Simone Zaza flicked home Parejo's corner at the near post in the 28th minute.
Valencia coach Marcelino Garcia Toral said: "The result is fair because we scored two legal goals, but Celta played very well and, if they'd drawn, we wouldn't have been able to complain."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS