Ronaldo, Salah, Icardi bag four; Race for European Golden Shoe intensifies

    Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored 444 goals in 429 Real Madrid appearances since joining from Manchester United

    Story highlights

    • Ronaldo, Salah & Icardi all score four goals
    • Race for European golden shoe intensifies

    (CNN)Hopes of challenging Barcelona's dominance in the Spanish League have long since evaporated for Real Madrid but the defending champions do have one race they think they can win.

    Zinedine Zidane has backed Cristiano Ronaldo to catch Lionel Messi in the race to be named La Liga's top scorer, describing the Portuguese as "from another galaxy."
      Ronaldo found the back of the net four times against Girona in Sunday's La Liga match-up, helping Los Blancos to a 6-3 victory.
      It was the 33-year-old's 50th career hat-trick, and the eighth time he has bagged four or more in a Real Madrid shirt.
      Having languished on four La Liga goals before the turn of the year, Ronaldo has scored 18 in nine league games since, taking him to second in the overall standings behind his Argentine rival.
      No player from Europe's top five leagues has scored more in 2018.
      "Cristiano's a very important player for us; he transmits an important and positive energy to the group," said Zidane.
      "He's unbelievably ambitious and that comes across in every training session and in everything he does on the pitch. It's what makes him different from the rest."
      Having surpassed Luis Suarez, Ronaldo is now just three behind Messi as his quest for a fourth Pichichi Trophy intensifies.
      "Hopefully he can catch him. It's important for him and for us too," said Zidane. "When he's playing well, the team plays well".
      Such were Ronaldo's woes in front of goal in the first half of the season, it was taking him on average 23 shots to find the back of the net. Now, Spanish media report, he is requiring less than four.
      "He's always in very good form come the end of the season," said Zidane. "He's got an eye for goal and he'll never lose that."
      All four of the striker's goals were first-touch finishes from within the area. With Ronaldo firing, Real have won eight of their past 10 La Liga fixtures, taking them within four points of Atletico Madrid in second place.
      Barcelona, however, are unbeaten in 36 -- the Catalan club's last league defeat coming back in April 2017 away at Malaga.
      "We want to try to take second place," said a bullish Zidane. "We've rediscovered our confidence in recent matches.
      "I'm happy for all the players because we've never thrown the towel in. We're going to try to continue in this vein".

      'The eighth wonder of the world'

      Ronaldo was not the only player to hit the headlines with four goals in a single game across Europe's top five leagues this weekend.
      Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah took his tally to 36 in just 41 appearances, putting Watford to the sword in a 5-0 home victory -- the sixth time Klopp's men have scored five or more this season.
      Mo Salah is the first Egyptian to score four or more in Europe's top five leagues in the 21st century.
      The 25-year-old is now the outright top scorer in Europe's top five leagues, leaving Reds players past and present at a loss for new superlatives.
      "I think it's indescribable. The goals he brings are invaluable and he's just so good to play with," said defender Joe Gomez.
      "Scoring goals has always been regarded as the hardest part of the game," said former striker Michael Owen, who twice netted four for Liverpool. "Mo Salah is starting to make me question that statement."
      Owen didn't even manage to hit 20 league goals in a single campaign over the course of his eight-year career at Anfield. Salah already has 28 with seven fixtures remaining -- four more than Tottenham's Harry Kane who was recently sidelined with an ankle injury.