|Ronaldo smashed his treble to propel Real back to the top of the Primera Division with a three-point advantage over bitter rivals Barca [GETTY]
Cristiano Ronaldo netted a hat-trick as Real Madrid brushed off Pepe's 44th-minute dismissal to secure a crushing 6-2 victory at Sevilla and move back above Barcelona to the top of the Primera Division on Saturday.
Jose Mourinho's side surrendered first place last weekend when they lost 3-1 at home to Barca in the opening 'Clasico' of the campaign but they go into the Christmas break with a three-point advantage over their great rivals after 16 matches.
Spanish and European champions Barca have been in action at the Club World Cup in Japan this week and meet Brazilian side Santos in the final on Sunday.
Primera Division top scorer Ronaldo, whistled by his own fans and criticised by Spanish media after a poor performance in the 'Clasico', took his league tally this season to 20 goals, three more than Barca's World Player of the Year Lionel Messi.
Saturday December 17
Mallorca 1-2 Getafe
Gijon 1-2 Espanyol
Bilbao 2-1 Zaragoza
Sevilla 2-6 Real Madrid
Sunday December 18
Atletico Madrid v Real Betis
Granada v Levante
Osasuna v Villarreal
Santander v Sociedad
Valencia v Malaga
Real were cruising at 3-0 in the Sanchez Pizjuan stadium after the Portuguese forward struck either side of a Jose Callejon effort before centre back Pepe was shown a second yellow card when he caught Alvaro Negredo with a flailing arm.
Real captain Iker Casillas had earlier produced two brilliant saves to deny Manu Del Moral and Piotr Trochowski and Del Moral squandered Sevilla's best effort when he somehow failed to score in front of an open goal with Real leading 1-0.
Real were forced to defend for long periods at the start of the second half but Sevilla were caught out in the 66th minute when Di Maria sped clear and stroked the ball past Javi Varas for the visitors' fourth.
Jesus Navas pulled one back for the home side in the 69th, Del Moral was shown a straight red card five minutes later for hacking down Alvaro Arbeloa and Ronaldo completed his treble with a penalty four minutes from time after a foul on Karim Benzema.
Substitute Hamit Altintop tapped in Real's sixth three minutes later before Sevilla striker Negredo rounded Casillas to make it 6-2 in the second minute of added time.
Sevilla stay fifth but will be overtaken by Malaga if the ambitious Qatar-owned club avoid defeat at third-placed Valencia on Sunday.