Sanchez hits hat-trick to fire Barcelona back to top
Alexis Sanchez stepped up to the plate in the absence of star strikers Lionel Messi and Neymar to power Barcelona back to the top of Spain's 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 Sanchez's first treble for the Catalan giants.
Alexis and Pedro were given ovations when substituted late on, with Neymar coming on for the final minutes.
The hosts could afford the luxury of missing a second-half penalty from Xavi as they reclaimed top spot from Atletico Madrid, who had gone three points clear with their win at Malaga on Saturday. Spain's top two meet in a highly-anticipated showdown next week.
A second-half goal from Koke was enough to give Atletico Madrid all three points in a tight game. The visitors endured a frustrating afternoon at La Rosaleda until the Spain international popped up with the winner on 70 minutes.
The pressure is now on Real Madrid tonight when they host Celta Vigo trailing the pacesetting pair by eight points.
Elsewhere, Serie A leaders Juventus ended second-placed AS Roma's unbeaten run with a 3-0 win to go eight points clear at the top as the visitors had two men sent off in less than 60 seconds.
Arturo Vidal gave Juve the lead in the 17th minute and Leonardo Bonucci turned in Andrea Pirlo's free-kick three minutes after half-time to put the hosts in control.
Roma imploded late on after Daniele De Rossi was sent off for a two-footed lunged tackle on Giorgio Chiellini in the 75th minute.
Pirlo floated over another majestic free-kick, Bonucci headed towards goal and Leandro Castan punched the ball away and was sent off. Mirko Vucinic fired in the penalty to complete the scoring and Juve's 10th successive league win.
Meanwhile, Fiorentina striker Guiseppe Rossi has suffered a possible injury setback after injuring his knee in his side's 1-0 win over Livorno.
La Viola confirmed last night that Rossi had suffered a "sprain" to his right knee, the joint in which he has twice damaged cruciate ligaments. The Italian international will undergo further tests today.