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Real players tired of signing hat-trick balls

Ronaldo struck three times in 14 first-half minutes as Madrid crushed Malaga 4-0 away on Saturday, adding to the three-goal hauls he collected against Real Zaragoza and Rayo Vallecano.

Real's Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain also bagged hat-tricks in the wins over Espanyol and Real Betis to take his total to nine in the league.

"It's good they keep changing, one day one, the next day the other," Real defender Alvaro Arbeloa joked with reporters. "I'm tired of signing balls, we don't have enough pens."

Real tore Malaga apart in the first half, Higuain opening the scoring in the 11th minute and coach Jose Mourinho praised his side for their performance in their sixth straight win in all competitions.

"I liked every aspect of our game, we have scored goals with a variety of moves," the Portuguese told reporters.

"We knew it wouldn't be possible to match it in the second half. The concentration levels dropped, their pride kicked in, and it could have ended up 4-2 or 5-2.

"You can't compare the two halves... but what we did in the first part was fantastic."

It was a harsh reminder for Malaga that they still had a long way to go to match Real Madrid on the field, after having equalled their spending in the closed season on nine new players.

Malaga were bought by a member of the Qatari royal family, Sheikh Abdullah al Thani, last year and have stated their aim is to get into Europe.

"There is still a long way to go and perhaps at present we can't compete," Malaga General Manager Fernando Hierro told reporters.

"We need time. The sheikh is happy with his team, with the project and the city... we have a lot of confidence invested in this."