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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Hat trick hero Cristiano Ronaldo pulls further away from Lionel Messi

ESPN FC's Shaka Hislop breaks down Real Madrid's comprehensive victory over Espanyol, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring three.

Each week, ESPN FC projects and reviews the scoring battle between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in La Liga.

Current goals total in La Liga: Ronaldo 19-12 Messi

Cristiano Ronaldo netted a hat trick to increase his scoring lead over Lionel Messi, who had to settle for just one goal at the weekend.

Ronaldo was in fine form as Real Madrid thrashed Espanyol 6-0. The Portuguese forward scored with three of the five shots he took, four of which were on goal. 

Messi scored Barcelona's equaliser against Atletico Madrid in a game the Spanish champions eventually won 2-1. In all, Messi took three shots, two of which were on target.

Incidentally, Messi's goal meant that, combined with Ronaldo, the pair had scored a combined 1000 times! Of course, that total is now 1003.

Cristiano Ronaldo has scored eight goals in two games against Espanyol this season.

Ratings and review

Here's what our Real Madrid and Barcelona club bloggers had to say about each man's performance.

Rob Train on Ronaldo: 9/10 -- Ronaldo provided good link-up play from a central position and ran tirelessly as part of Real's pressure from the front. He also tended to look for a teammate -- even when a shot was on. Ronaldo, though, is all about goals, and despite his renewed energy in other duties, he still bagged a hat trick. It's impossible to frame footwork, but if it was, his second goal would be hanging in the Prado.

Francesc Tomas on Messi: 8/10 -- Scored his 21st career goal against Atletico with a blunt strike, giving his team the vital equaliser that enabled their comeback. As influential as ever when on the ball and far more involved in chasing after it when not in possession. This was another memorable display of leadership from the more mature version of the legendary No.10.

Lionel Messi has now scored 21 career goals against Atletico Madrid in La Liga.

Socially speaking

How did Twitter react to Ronaldo and Messi's latest displays?

What do you think about Messi and Ronaldo? Let us know using the hashtag #ESPNFCMessiRonaldo. Plus, tell us who will win this season's scoring battle in our poll.

Who will score more La Liga goals this season?

The next game

Both men are back in league action next Sunday. Messi is in action first when Barcelona visit Levante. Later, Ronaldo and Real Madrid are at Granada.

The Messi vs. Ronaldo goals-projection model

All season long, ESPN FC, in conjunction with ESPN's Stats & Info group, will forecast the scoring battle in La Liga between Messi and Ronaldo using a specially designed projection model.

Here's an explanation from the model's creator, analytics specialist Zach Bradshaw:

"These projections account for the historical performance (goals scored and minutes played) of the two players since 2010, strength of opposing defences faced (measured by SPI defensive rating), game location, and the potential for injury or missing games. Based on these inputs, the predictor will estimate the chance of each player scoring any number of goals for each remaining game. From this, we can project the total number of goals scored, hat tricks, and the chance of each player accruing more goals than the other over the course of the entire Liga season."

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