Ronaldo celebrates award with brace

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrated his fifth Ballon d'Or award by scoring twice to lead Real Madrid's 5-0 rout of Sevilla in the Spanish league on Saturday.

Ronaldo was presented his trophy for the best player in football in front of the Santiago Bernabeu crowd before kickoff. He received the honour on Friday in a ceremony in Paris, his fifth trophy, equalling Barcelona rival Lionel Messi.

After soaking up the ovation from his fans, the Portugal star went on to have his best performance in the league this season. His brace earned him another loud round of applause when he was substituted late.

Madrid moved into third place, five points behind leader Barcelona, which visits Villarreal on Monday.

Sevilla entered the game tied on points with a Madrid side that was without first-choice defenders Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal and midfielder Casemiro, who were all suspended for one match, and injured centre back Raphael Varane.

But with Ronaldo and the forwards on song, Zinedine Zidane's bunch decided the match with five goals before halftime.

Two of Madrid's reserve players got starts to patch up its defense, Nacho Fernandez and 19-year-old Achraf Hakimi, scored for the hosts.

"We can be pleased because it's not easy to score five goals against Sevilla,'' Zidane said. "I am happy for Cristiano and for the players who hadn't played many minutes because they played well.''

Madrid will take a break from La Liga and travel to the United Arab Emirates to dispute the Club World Cup next week as the Champions League winner.

Sevilla's nightmare started in the third minute when Simon Kjaer failed to clear a corner kick. Instead, the ball hit teammate Luis Muriel in the shoulder and bounced toward the goal, where Fernandez only had to finish it off.

After a brief spell when Sevilla tried to respond, a silky smooth pass by Marco Asensio met Ronaldo on his run past left back Lionel Carole. Ronaldo put the ball past goalkeeper Sergio Rico.

Sevilla never recovered, and a handball by Jesus Navas to block Marcelo's pass in the area sent Ronaldo to the penalty spot. Rico anticipated the direction but Ronaldo's powerful shot bounced off his gloves and body before finding the net.

The goals were only Ronaldo's third and fourth through 11 league games. That low tally contrasts with his performances in the Champions League, where he became the first player to score in all six group matches.

The goals were also Ronaldo's 26th and 27th in 18 games against Sevilla.

Up 3-0, Madrid poured forward and after Rico saved strikes by Luka Modric and Ronaldo he could not deny Toni Kroos when he worked a one-two passing combination on the break with Lucas Vazquez.

Hakimi rounded off the demolition when the right back scored his first career goal with a classy finish to beat Rico after Karim Benzema set him up on the break.

Sevilla defender Gabriel Mercado apologised to the team's supporters for what he agreed was its worst outing of the season.

"We ask our fans to forgive us,'' Mercado said. "We need to be very self-critical to correct what went wrong.''



Photo: JAVIER BARBANCHO/REUTERS. Caption: Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice against Sevilla on Sunday morning (NZT).