Real Madrid had the perfect preparation for Wednesday night’s blockbuster last-16 clash with Paris Saint-Germain, comfortably downing Real Sociedad 5-2 at the Bernabeu on Saturday evening.
Zinedine Zidane’s men were four goals up at the break through a Cristiano Ronaldo brace and goals from Toni Kroos and Lucas Vazquez, and never looked like relinquishing their lead on the way to an easy three points.
With an indifferent first half of the season in the Spanish capital, the champions were under immense pressure to deliver a performance ahead of a major threat to their Champions League defence in midweek.
A distant 19 points behind runaway leaders Barcelona, the home side got off to the best possible start, with Lucas Vazquez beautifully heading home a Ronaldo cross from the left wing, after just 49 seconds, for the opener.
The Portuguese talisman, who turned 33 this week, combined brilliantly with Marco Asensio and Marcelo to double Real’s lead.
The Brazilian left-back latched on to a pinpoint through ball from Asensio, and swept a low ball into the box, for Ronaldo to place out of the reach of Geronimo Rulli in the Sociedad net.
Los Blancos added a third soon after, with Sociedad no match for the blistering attacking play on show. Vazquez centred the ball across the box for Toni Kroos to caress the ball home in his trademark style, with the German scoring his fourth goal of the season.
It was a much-needed boost for the Madridistas, with the home side faltering in their title defence, and meekly surrendering to basement dwellers Leganes in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals, suffering an embarrassing 2-1 defeat at the Bernabeu to bow out of the competition.
Ahead of the midweek showdown with the Parisiens, Zidane’s charges urgently needed a pick-me-up.
It got even better before half-time, with Luka Modric whipping in a cross from the right flank which Cristiano Ronaldo met for his second and Real’s fourth, powering a header into the roof of the net for their third goal in ten minutes.
Los Merengues took their foot off the boil in the second half, choosing to save some energy, with the game already won and a tricky few weeks ahead. Substitute Jon Bautista reduced the arrears for the visitors with 15 minutes to go.
The Portuguese completed his hat-trick with ten minutes to go, to finish off a perfect Real performance.
Former Madrid man Asier Illarramendi added a second consolation strike seven minutes from time to make the scoreline slightly more respectable for the travelling Basques, but the end result was a definitive victory for the capital side, who moved into third place ahead of Valencia.