Barcelona increased their lead in La Liga to three points with a win at Betis as Atletico Madrid dropped two vital points at Villarreal. Cristiano Ronaldo hit a hat-trick as Real Madrid increase the pressure on their city rivals.
Barcelona had an ultimately comfortable 4-1 win at Betis, who were left bottom of La Liga. Betis coach Pepe Mel, forced to make multiple changes through injury and suspension, saw his side dominate much the first half against the Primera leaders and Victor Valdes was the busier goalkeeper in the early stages until Betis were hit by two killer blows.
Neymar slotted home his fourth goal of the season on 35 minutes and Pedro Rodriguez doubled the Catalans’ lead two minutes later. Cesc Fabregas made it three on the hour as Barca bossed the second half and added his second 10 minutes from time with Betis well-beaten. Jorge Molina’s stoppage-time penalty was scant consolation for Los Verdiblancos.
Atletico Madrid lost ground on Barcelona as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Villarreal. An own goal from Mario Gaspar gave the visitors an early lead, but Juanfran also put through his own goal 11 minutes from time to gift Villarreal a point which they fully deserved, having contained Atleti for long periods of the game.
Cristiano Ronaldo hit his second hat-trick in three Primera games as Real Madrid thumped Real Sociedad 5-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu. The Portuguese striker opened the scoring from Karim Benzema’s pass on 12 minutes before setting up the Frenchman to slot home six minutes later.
Ronaldo added the third from the penalty spot before Gareth Bale played in Sami Khedira to make it 4-0 after just 36 minutes. French winger Antoine Griezmann pulled one back for La Real with his seventh of the season after the break, but Ronaldo sealed his treble with an astounding free-kick to take his tally for the season to 24 goals in just 17 games in all competitions.
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Athletic Bilbao came from behind to beat Levante 2-1 thanks to two astute half-time substitutions after Athletic trailed to a first half strike by David Barral. Coach Ernesto Valverde replaced Benat Etxebarria with Mikel Rico and Iker Muniain with Aritz Aduriz and it was Rico who lashed in a volley for the equaliser before Aduriz headed in the winner six minutes from the end. The night ended on a sour note for Aduriz, who received a straight red card for a late clash with Levante’s Aloys Nong.
Inconsistency is Valencia’s greatest enemy this season and they had to come back twice against Valladolid to earn a point from a 2-2 draw at Mestalla. Valencia’s Ever Banega fired a fifth-minute spot-kick over the bar before Javi Guerra gave La Pucela the lead on nine minutes, but Dorlan Pabon was on hand for the equaliser for Valencia twenty minutes later. Right-back Gilberto Garcia restored Valladolid’s lead after the break, but Sofiane Feghouli rescued a point for Los Che 14 minutes from time.
Sevilla won 3-1 at struggling Espanyol to finally end a 14-month streak without an away win, while the Catalans have now taken just four points from the last 24 available. Federico Fazio headed in Ivan Rakitic’s free kick to put Sevilla ahead after just three minutes and Machin Vitolo stabbed in from a Rakitic corner inside 10 minutes.
Sergio Garcia gave Espanyol a glimmer of hope on 23 minutes, but Carlos Bacca restored the two-goal cushion following the break. Espanyol finished with 10 men after Victor Sanchez received a second yellow card for a crude challenge on Vicente Iborra and was sent off for the second time this season.
Almeria made it three wins in a row with a 1-0 win at Osasuna. Rodri’s 18th minute strike, his seventh goal of the season was enough to secure three points at Reyno de Navarra to take the Andalucians out of the relegation zone.
Youssef El Arabi hit a second-half hat-trick as Granada stormed to a 3-1 win over neighbouring Malaga at Los Carmenes. The Moroccan striker took his tally to the season to six as El Grana climbed to eighth. El Arabi broke the deadlock following a goalless first half, and although Juani equalised for the visitors, El Arabi restored the lead within minutes and completed his treble to seal the win.
Getafe and Elche fought out a 1-1 draw at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez. Pedro Leon gave the Madrid outfit the lead midway through the first half and Yiadom Boakye levelled for the visitors on the hour.
Rayo Vallecano bounced back after three straight defeats to record their fourth win of the season at Celta Vigo. Jonathan Viera put Rayo in front on 24 minutes and Argentine striker Joaquin Larrivey made sure of the points with a second-half strike.