Sevilla boosted their chances of returning to Europe next season when Alvaro Negredo netted his first La Liga hat-trick in a 4-1 home win against RC Celta de Vigo on Monday.
The Andalusian side, UEFA Cup winners in 2006 and 2007, failed to qualify for continental competition last term for the first time in almost a decade, dealing the cash-strapped club a significant financial blow.
They started this season poorly, but since the sacking of coach Michel in January replacement Unai Emery has revived their fortunes.
Monday’s success lifted them to 10th on 35 points with 12 matches left, six below a Europa League berth and eight behind Malaga who occupy the fourth Champions League spot.
“It’s my first hat-trick in the league, the Cup and every other competition,” a smiling Negredo said in an interview with Spanish television broadcaster Marca TV.
“We have to be strong here at home and away too and it was important to win and keep climbing up the table,” he added.
Negredo fired Sevilla ahead in the 12th minute when he was perfectly placed to slot home after Celta goalkeeper Javi Varas had palmed away a Jesus Navas cross-shot.
Navas was a constant threat down the right and another center from the Spain international in the 29th minute ricocheted out to Negredo just inside the area and he blasted the ball into the net.
Celta fought back strongly toward the end of the first half and a defensive error gifted them a goal five minutes before the break, Augusto Fernandez firing home.
Varas should have coped better with a swerving effort from Gary Medel in the 66th minute, but could only palm the ball into the net before Negredo pounced on another loose ball to complete his hat-trick two minutes later.