Barcelona return to the top

  • Last Updated: January 5 2014, 21:29 GMT

A review of the weekend's action in the Spanish Primera Division, including Barcelona's 4-0 victory over Elche.

Alexis Sanchez celebrates for Barcelona
Alexis Sanchez celebrates for Barcelona

Alexis Sanchez stepped up to the plate in the absence of star playmakers Lionel Messi and Neymar to power Barcelona back to the top of the Primera Division with a clinical hat-trick in a 4-0 win over Elche.

Barca were missing both Messi, who is recovering from injury, and Neymar, who started on the bench, but still boasted far too much firepower for lowly Elche, with Pedro adding to Alexis' first treble for the Catalan giants.

The hosts also had the luxury of missing a second-half penalty from Xavi as they reclaimed top spot from Atletico Madrid, who went three points clear with their win at Malaga on Saturday.

A second-half goal from Koke was enough to give Atletico Madrid all three points in a tight game.

The visitors were made to sweat for the victory and had endured a frustrating afternoon at La Rosaleda until the Spain international popped up with the winner on 70 minutes.

Not for the first time this season away from the Calderon, Atleti struggled to create many chances but Simeone has instilled a winning mentality in the team and once again they did just enough to take victory.

Real Sociedad edged their way past Athletic Bilbao 2-0 to win the Basque derby at Anoeta with a goal at the end of either half, cutting the gap between themselves and their local rivals in fourth spot to just one point.

Antoine Griezmann put the hosts ahead in the closing stages of the first half and although Ernesto Valverde's side had significantly more possession, they were unable to carve together enough chances to equalise, and in injury time Ruben Pardo provided the finishing touch to a counterattack to seal the points.

Sevilla hammered Getafe 3-0 at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan to move sixth.

Goals from Vitolo, Carlos Bacca and Ivan Rakitic rewarded the hosts' dominance as they moved six points ahead of their opponents in the race for a European place.

Osasuna moved two points clear of the relegation zone with a vital but narrow 1-0 win over Espanyol at El Sadar.

Alvaro Cejudo scored the only goal of the game after 33 minutes as Osasuna edged the first half, but the hosts were also indebted to goalkeeper Andres Fernandez for a string of quality saves as Espanyol put up a fight in the second period.

Almeria climbed out of the bottom four with a 3-0 win over Granada, Sebastian Dubarbier, Verza (penalty) and Alex Vidal on the scoresheet.

On Saturday, Juan Antonio Pizzi enjoyed the ideal start to life as new Valencia coach after seeing his charges earn a 2-0 derby victory over city rivals Levante.

Argentina-born Pizzi's countryman Pablo Piatti drilled home the opener just before half-time and the influential Sofiane Feghouli sealed the win midway through the second half with a neat finish.

Real Valladolid and Real Betis shared the spoils in an exciting albeit goalless draw at the Jose Zorilla stadium, a result that does little to help either team's precarious situation.


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