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Ronaldo hat-trick fires Real into Copa quarter-final

CRISTIANO RONALDO was the decisive figure for the second time in four days as he scored a hat-trick to lead Real Madrid to a 4-0 victory over Celta Vigo that put them in the quarter-finals of the Copa Del Rey last night.

The Portugal forward, runner-up to Lionel Messi in Monday's Ballon D'Or, netted twice inside the first 25 minutes at the Bernabeu and sealed the victory near the end after Sergio Ramos had been sent off.

Real's 5-2 aggregate win set up a meeting with Valencia next week.

"It needs to be pointed out, Cristiano has scored four goals across the tie," Real director Emilio Butragueno told Spanish television.

"His contribution has been decisive. He has been the player of the tie, and we are lucky to have him."

Real Zaragoza were 2-0 winners at home to Levante with goals from Franco Zuculini and Francisco Montanes to progress 3-0 on aggregate, and set up a last-eight meeting with Sevilla.

The 2010 Cup winners Sevilla were never seriously troubled having won 5-0 away at Real Mallorca in their first leg, and in a sparsely populated Sanchez Pizjuan progressed 6-2 on aggregate.

The Cup has taken on added importance for Jose Mourinho's Real with Barcelona leading them by 16 points in La Liga and, after losing 2-1 in Vigo, the pressure was on.

Mourinho fielded the strongest side available to him with Iker Casillas restored to the starting line-up after being dropped to the substitutes' bench for the last two games.

Demanding

The return of the popular Spain number one led to cheers when his name was read out before kickoff, while Mourinho's was once again met with both whistles and applause.

"This is a stadium that is very demanding," Butragueno replied when asked about the whistles for Mourinho, who did not speak after the game.

It was Celta who sprang the surprises, leaving regulars such as leading scorer Iago Aspas on the bench, and the hosts threatened to swamp the Galicians in the first half.

Ronaldo struck a swerving shot from wide on the touchline, which flew inside the far post after only two minutes to set the tone.

Luka Modric floated a ball through for Ronaldo to stroke in the second in the 25th minute.

Real midfielder Xabi Alonso exited with a neck strain at the break.

But Ronaldo rode to the rescue again, latching on to Gonzalo Higuain's pass to fire in his third in the 87th minute, before Sami Khedira finished off another counter-attack a minute later.