Barcelona, Jan 6 (IANS) Alexis Sanchez helped fire FC Barcelona back to the top of the La Liga table with a hat-trick in his side’s 4-0 win at home to Elche.
Barca kicked off knowing that Atletico Madrid’s win in Malaga Saturday meant they were obliged to win to return to top spot and Alexis wasted little time in opening the scoring Sunday as he put the finishing touch to a magnificent Jordi Alba cross, reports Xinhua.
Elche showed moments of good passing football and were unlucky to hit the post before Pedro Rodriguez scored Barca’s second after 16 minutes.
Alexis added his second of the afternoon to make it 3-0 after minutes and in a side without Lionel Messi, who will probably return to action in the Copa del Rey against Getafe, and Neymar, who was a surprise substitute, he finished off his first hat-trick for the club with a brilliant free-kick in Camp Nou.
Elsewhere, Real Sociedad put pressure on fourth place Athletic Club Bilbao with a 2-0 win in a tight Basque derby where both of the home side’s goals came in the end of each half.
Antoine Griezmann put Real Sociedad ahead in the 45th minute with a shot from outside the penalty area which bounced through a crowd of players and Ruben Pardo killed the game on the break in the 92nd minute after appearing to control the ball with his hand.
Athletic had a good appeal for a penalty turned round when the score was 1-0 after Mikel Bergara appeared to commit a clear handball in the Real penalty area.
Sevilla’s recent improved form continued as Igor Rakitic led an convincing 3-0 win at home to Getafe.
Unai Emery’s side were always in control and Vitolo opened the scoring after 34 minutes before further strikes from Carlos Baca and Igor Rakitic killed the game in the second half and to move Sevilla up to sixth.
Finally Osasuna climbed out of the bottom three thanks to a 1-0 win at home to Espanyol. Javi Lopez’s error allowed Alvaro Cejudo to score the only goal.
Real Madrid entertain Celta Vigo Monday night and will kick off eight points behind Barca and Atletico while second from bottom Rayo Vallecano entertain Villarreal.