Madrid, Spain (SportsNetwork.com) - Real Madrid tied a Spanish league record on Saturday by securing its 18th straight win in all competitions as Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick propelled the club to a 3-0 win over Celta Vigo at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Ronaldo got the scoring started from the penalty spot in the 36th minute after a debatable decision from the referee, and he added goals in the 65th and 81st minutes to help his side equal the mark set by Barcelona in 2005-06.
Madrid will now attempt to break the record on Tuesday night against Bulgarian side Ludogorets in the Champions League, while Saturday's victory takes Carlo Ancelotti's team five points clear of Barcelona, which hosts Espanyol on Sunday.
Ronaldo threatened a few times in the opening half hour before he won a penalty kick in the 36th minute under questionable circumstances.
The former Manchester United man dashed into the box to track down a lofted ball from Marcelo, and he went down under the slightest contact from Celta defender Jonny. Ronaldo picked himself up and sent goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez the wrong way from the spot, putting Madrid up 1-0 at the break.
The hosts were having trouble breaking down the Celta defense, and they were denied by a nice stop from Alvarez on Gareth Bale just after the hour mark.
A few minutes later, however, Ronaldo got a kind bounce inside the penalty area that allowed him to lash a volley home from 12 yards to double the advantage.
Ronaldo then set a new La Liga record nine minutes from time when he completed his 23rd hat trick by arriving at the back post to tap in a nice ball from Marcelo.
Atletico Madrid moved into second place after notching a 2-0 win at Elche through goals from Jose Gimenez and Mario Mandzukic, a first-half goal from Nabil Ghilas was enough to hand Cordoba its first win of the season in a 1-0 triumph at Athletic Bilbao, while Sergi Darder's 22nd-minute goal was enough to see Malaga slip past Deportivo, 1-0.