Cristiano Ronaldo answered his critics with a hat-trick as Real Madid came from behind to win 4-1 at Alaves and provisionally go three points clear at the top of La Liga.
Alaves forward Deyverson pounced on an error by Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas to give the home side a shock lead in the seventh minute but the Brazilian gave away a controversial penalty in the 17th for handball which Ronaldo calmly converted.
The Portuguese put the European champions in charge in the 33rd with a powerful strike that deflected off Zouhair Feddal and beyond the reach of former Real goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco.
Pacheco did manage to turn away another penalty by Ronaldo in the second half but Real’s all-time top scorer netted his first treble of the season in the 88th after substitute Alvaro Morata had stretched Real’s lead four minutes earlier.
Ronaldo had been questioned going into the game after making his worst start to a season with Real, scoring only two goals in six starts, but he is now Zinedine Zidane’s top scorer in the league with five strikes.
Real are top of the standings on 24 points, three clear of Sevilla, who drew 1-1 at Sporting Gijon. Champions Barcelona can cut the gap with Real to two points when they host Granada later on Saturday, while Atletico Madrid play Malaga at home.
Sevilla were chasing a win to seal the club’s best-ever start to a league season and Luciano Vietto got them off to a dream start by squeezing the ball under Ivan Cuellar in the fourth minute.
Sevilla grabbed a first away victory in 17 months in their previous outing at Leganes but hopes of a second straight win on the road were soon dashed by Moi Gomez’s volley to level the scores in the 20th minute.
The visiting side dominated the remainder of the game and despite chances falling to Franco Vazquez and Pablo Sarabia, and Sporting’s Duje Cop hitting his own side’s post, a winner proved elusive.