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Ronaldo treble keeps Real in title hunt

Cristiano Ronaldo wheels away in celebration after scoring his  first goal of three against Mallorca on Wednesday.
Cristiano Ronaldo wheels away in celebration after scoring his first goal of three against Mallorca on Wednesday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Cristiano Ronaldo scores his first hat-trick for Real Madrid in 4-1 win at Mallorca
  • Portugal forward has now netted 36 times in his first season for Los Galacticos
  • Real reduce Barcelona's Spanish league lead to one point with two games to play
  • Sevilla reclaim fourth place from Mallorca with 5-1 victory at Racing Santander
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(CNN) -- Cristiano Ronaldo continued his sensational scoring form with a hat-trick on Wednesday night to keep Real Madrid's Spanish title hopes alive going into the final two matches of the season.

Real trail Barcelona by one point after matching the defending champions' 4-1 victory over Tenerife the night before, coming from behind to defeat European hopefuls Mallorca.

While world player of the year Lionel Messi took his tally to 44 goals with two more on Tuesday, Ronaldo is proving to be just as important to Real's chances.

The Portugal forward, who became the world's most expensive player when he signed for $130 million from Manchester United in pre-season, has now scored 36 times this campaign.

He followed up his double from Sunday's last-gasp 3-2 victory against Osasuna with another superb solo display, canceling out Aritz Aduriz's 16th-minute header with an opportunist effort 10 minutes later as he beat goalkeeper Dudu Aouate to a long ball by Sergio Ramos.

Ronaldo put Real ahead 11 minutes after halftime with his 24th league goal this season, again combining with Ramos as he chested down the Argentine's pass and prodded the ball past Aouate.

He made it 3-1 with 18 minutes to play as he skipped past two defenders on the left-hand edge of the penalty area and calmly slotted a low right-foot shot past the keeper to seal his first treble for the club.

Gonzalo Higuain capped the victory 10 minutes later with a superb deft chip over Aouate after running clear for his 26th goal in La Liga this season, putting him behind only Messi's 31.

This weekend, Real will host Athletic Bilbao while Barcelona travel to Sevilla, who reclaimed fourth place from Mallorca with a 5-1 victory at Racing Santander.

Striker Alvaro Negredo followed up his weekend double with two more goals as Santander, who had Mohamed Tchite sent off for two bookings after he made it 3-1 on the hour, were left just a point above the bottom three.

Eighth-placed Athletic Bilbao failed to return to the top six after a 1-1 home draw with Malaga, who moved above Santander on goal difference.

Atletico Madrid kept up the fine end-of-season form that has seen Real's city rivals reach the finals of the Europa League and Copa Del Rey by defeating second-bottom Valladolid 3-1.

Goals from Juanito, Jose Manuel Jurado and Diego Forlan put the ninth-placed hosts 3-0 up before a 78th-minute consolation by Jonathan Sesma as relegation-threatened Valladolid suffered a first defeat under former Spain coach Javier Clemente.

Deportivo La Coruna were leapfrogged by Atletico after losing 3-1 at Osasuna, and now cannot qualify for the Europa League.

Real Zaragoza moved five points clear of the bottom three with a 1-0 win at home to Espanyol, who are a point above in 13th place, thanks to a second-half penalty from in-form striker Adrian Colunga.