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Real Madrid's goalkeeper and captain, Iker Casillas, celebrates one of his team's goals during the Spanish Copa del Rey (King's Cup) match against Celta de Vigo at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on Wednesday. Dominique Faget / Agence France-Presse
Cristiano Ronaldo responded to missing out on the Ballon d'Or by hitting a stunning hat-trick as Real Madrid beat Celta de Vigo 4-0 to reach the Copa del Rey quarterfinals on Wednesday.
Trailing 2-1 from the first leg of its last-16 tie, Portuguese star Ronaldo hit two early openers before settling the tie with three minutes remaining to calm his team's nerves after Sergio Ramos had been sent off with 17 minutes to go.
Sami Khedira added the fourth in the final minute and Jose Mourinho's men will now meet Valencia in the next round before a potential semi-final tie with long-time rival Barcelona, which knocked Madrid out last season at the quarterfinal stage.
"Cristiano's performance was incredible - the goals speak for themselves," said Real assistant manager Aitor Karanka.
Mourinho recalled goalkeeper Iker Casillas for the clash after he had controversially dropped the club captain to the bench for the past two La Liga games.
It was Casillas's 650th appearance for the club.
Ronaldo, beaten to the Ballon d'Or by Lionel Messi on Monday, hit a sensational opener after only two minutes.
Receiving the ball from a short throw-in, the Portuguese hit an unstoppable shot from wide on the left that fizzed and then bent before beating Sergio in the Celta goal at his far post to give Madrid the lead on the night and level the tie.
It was the same man who hit a shot over the bar from long range 10 minutes later, before he doubled his side's overall lead with one delicate touch on 23 minutes to finish off a Luka Modric through ball.
Mesut Ozil went close from a tight angle before Sergio Ramos hit a free-kick just over the bar as the Galician side struggled to contain the Spanish champion.
Celta had to wait until the 53rd minute for its first advance on the home goal when Park Chu-young came close to connecting with a Quique de Lucas cross.
Celta coach Paco Herrera then replaced Park with his top scorer, Iago Aspas, sensing his side was still in the tie.
The substitute immediately gave the away team more urgency and Casillas saved an Aspas shot on 63 minutes, before De Lucas gave him more of a test four minutes later.
The pressure increased for Madrid when Ramos was dismissed for his second yellow card and Casillas had to make important saves from Michael Krohn-Dehli and Augusto Fernandez before Ronaldo got his third with a crisp shot from the left to settle nerves on 87 minutes; then Khedira made it four.
Also on Wednesday, Sevilla went through to the quarterfinals despite losing 2-1 at home to Mallorca, after it had won the first-leg 5-0.
It will now face Real Zaragoza who beat Levante 2-0 on the night, to make it 3-0 on aggregate.
(China Daily 01/11/2013 page22)