Madrid (AFP) – French striker Antoine Griezmann hit a hat-trick as Atletico Madrid thrashed Sevilla 5-2 on Sunday to cut the gap on La Liga leaders Barcelona back to seven points.
The result was also a boost for Manchester United, who face Sevilla in the Champions League last 16 second leg next month afer the two sides were locked 0-0 from the first game.
Former Chelsea star Diego Costa grabbed the opener just before the half-hour mark after a farcical mix-up in the Sevilla defence.
Goalkeeper Sergio Rico attempted to play a short ball to Ever Banega standing on the edge of the penalty area.
However, his teammate dallied too long and predator Costa nipped in to steal the ball off the toe of the Argentine before confidently burying the opportunity.
Sevilla had plenty of chances with Colombian striker Luis Muriel seeing Atletico keeper Jan Oblak deny him with a smart save.
Three minutes from the break, Griezmann scored his first of the night when he danced between three defenders to score with a fierce right-footed drive past Rico.
Griezmann made it 3-0 five minutes into the second half, converting his team’s first La Liga penalty of the season after Costa was brought down by Rico.
Sevilla imploded with Koke making it 4-0 after more suicidal defending before Griezmann completed his hat-trick on 80 minutes, taking his Liga tally to 11 for the season.
The home side salvaged a degree of pride when Pablo Sarabia and Nolito tucked away goals in the last five minutes.
On Saturday, Luis Suarez hit a hat-trick as Barcelona thrashed neighbours Girona 6-1 while Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice for Real Madrid in a 4-0 defeat of Alaves.
Real are third, seven points behind Atletico and 14 back from Barcelona.
Earlier on Sunday, Santi Mina scored both goals as Valencia defeated Real Sociedad 2-1 to stay firmly on course for the Champions League next season.
The victory took fourth-placed Valencia to 49 points, just two behind Real and eight ahead of Villarreal in the race for spots in the continent’s top club competition.
Valencia went ahead in the 34th minute with a Santi Mina header before Mikel Oyarzabal levelled with a powerful drive after 54 minutes.
However, a mistake by Sociedad goalkeeper Tono Ramirez 13 minutes later allowed Mina to tuck away the second goal and ensure the three points against rivals who were eliminated from the Europa League on Thursday at the hands of Salzburg.