Cristiano Ronaldo is in the form of his career according to Real Madrid teammate Sergio Ramos. Photos: Reuters

Cristiano Ronaldo sets La Liga record with 23rd hat-trick

Sergio Ramos says the Portuguese superstar's stats are 'madness' after setting Spanish league mark

Cristiano Ronaldo's teammate Sergio Ramos says the superstar's stats are insane after the Portuguese grabbed a record 23rd La Liga hat-trick to guide leaders Real Madrid to a 3-0 victory over Celta Vigo.

It also helped the European champions extend their club record winning streak to 18 matches in all competitions and equal the record run of victories set by Barcelona between October 2005 and January 2006.

You have to invent words to define him. He is beating all the records and is possibly in the best form of his career
Sergio Ramos

With his latest treble he overtook Spanish greats Alfredo Di Stefano, of Real Madrid, and Athletic Bilbao's Telmo Zarra and he has three more hat-tricks than his present-day rival Lionel Messi, at Barcelona.

"The statistics he is producing are madness," Ramos said. "To be honest it is a privilege to play at Real Madrid with a player like him. You have to invent words to define him. He is beating all the records and is possibly in the best form of his career."

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his second goal against Celta Vigo during their Spanish Primera Liga match.

Ronaldo, the inspiration behind Real's blistering form this season, struck the opening goal from the penalty spot nine minutes before the break after what looked like a dive.

"It was a little unfair, we were in the game until then," Celta defender Jonny Castro said. "I touched him, but he fell at the last moment."

While Real constantly looked to push forward, they also found it tough against a well-organised Celta.

There was no stopping Ronaldo though as he blasted a volley from the centre of the penalty area after 65 minutes to make it 2-0 before adding a third goal from close range nine minutes from the end.

"To have a player like Cristiano is a big advantage," coach Carlo Ancelotti said. "He is playing very well at the moment. He has extraordinary motivation and physically he is at his best."

Ronaldo received a standing ovation when substituted late, after taking his overall tally to 29 goals in 21 games this season.

He led the Spanish league with 31 goals last season. Lionel Messi holds the record for the most goals in a Liga campaign with 50 in 2011-12.

Ronaldo is already well on pace to repeat not only as the league's top scorer - Neymar is second with 11 - but he is also making a strong bid to defend his award for the world's best player.

Real have 36 points from 14 games, four ahead of Atletico and five in front of Barcelona, who were at home to Espanyol in an overnight game.

Elsewhere, a ferocious drive by Jose Maria Gimenez set Atletico Madrid on the way to a 2-0 triumph at Elche that lifted them into second place.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Ronaldo's 23rd hat-trick leaves teammate in awe