Barça’s next opponents in the league, Atlético Madrid, recorded an important 4-1 away win at struggling Sporting Gijón with French striker Kevin Gameiro recording his first ever hat-trick for los colchoneros. Diego Simeone’s team play host to FC Barcelona next Sunday (kick off 4.15pm CET) and the victory keeps them in fourth place in the table on 45 points.
Atlético were made to work hard for all three points in Asturias against a Sporting side who have spent the majority of the season mired in the relegation zone. After a goalless first half in which the home side had the better of the game, Carrasco put Atlético ahead just a minute after the restart. Sporting leveled things up just three minutes later thanks to a goal from Sergio Álvarez.
Diego Simeone introduced Gameiro in the second half in place of Fernando Torres and the Frenchman blew away the home side with the fastest hat-trick La Liga has seen in the last 22 years. Between minute 81 and 85 the Atlético striker found the net three times to give his side a win that keeps them four points ahead of fifth placed Real Sociedad who lost 1-0 at home to Villarreal. Before they welcome Barça, the side from Madrid will be in Champions League action on Tuesday when they travel to Germany to take on Bayer Leverkusen in the first leg of their last 16 tie.
Real Madrid remain top of the table with two games still in hand thanks to a routine 2-0 victory at home over Espanyol. Gareth Bale scored on his return from injury, adding the second after Álvaro Morata had opened the scoring for Zinedine Zidane’s team.
Sevilla kept pace at the top of the table with a 2-0 win of their own at home to Eibar. Pablo Sarabia put them ahead in the first half before Vitolo’s strike in injury time in the second rounded off the victory. Jorge Sampaoli's side remain in third place, a point behind FC Barcelona who are still just a point behind the leaders after Leo Messi's late penalty gave them a 2-1 win over Leganés at Camp Nou.
At the bottom of the table Granada moved two within two points of safety with a 4-1 home demolition of Betis, their second win in three matches brings them level of points with third from bottom Sporting. Osasuna prop up the division for another week at least following a 3-0 defeat at Celta Vigo.