Promising teenager Oliver Torres scored 13 seconds into his first start for Atletico Madrid on Sunday, before veteran David Villa added a brace in their 5-0 rout of Real Betis Balompie, keeping them pegged one point behind leaders Barcelona.
Oliver connected with a squared ball from Jorge “Koke” Resurreccion that took a deflection off Betis defender Jordi Figueras before falling for him to fire home just moments after the opening whistle at the Vicente Calderon.
It was an ideal start for the 18-year-old midfielder making his first appearance in Atletico’s starting lineup. Minutes later, he almost assisted Diego Godin, who headed his pass past the upright.
“It was a dream come true when I got up this morning knowing that I would make my first start and to begin with a goal, that gave me more confidence,” Oliver said. “I want to thank all our fans and dedicate the goal to my father whose birthday it is today.”
Oliver is considered one of the league’s most gifted up-and-coming players for his playmaking abilities. He debuted for Atletico last year, the same year he helped Spain win the UEFA Under-19 Championships.
“That kid has a great future ahead of him,” Villa said about Oliver. “All of us love him. He doesn’t have to rush. Our fans will be able to enjoy him for years and years to come. He just needs to be patient.”
The 31-year-old Villa, Spain’s all-time leading scorer, ended his month-long scoring drought with a much-needed double after being overshadowed by strike partner Diego Costa since his move from Barcelona in the summer.
Having gotten his pair of goals, Villa capped his best outing for Atletico by passing for Diego Costa to notch his league-leading 11th goal of the season.
Also on Sunday, Mexico international forward Giovani dos Santos scored two goals and set up the opener as Villarreal rolled past Valencia 4-1 to strengthen their hold on fourth place.
Real Sociedad took out some of the frustration from their loss at Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League last week by beating up on last-placed UD Almeria 3-0, while Sevilla edged 10-man CA Osasuna 2-1 for a third win in as many rounds.
Betis goalkeeper Guillermo Sara was injured while stretching to save Diego Costa’s shot in first-half stoppage-time.
Backup Stephan Andersen replaced him, but he could do nothing in the 53rd minute to stop Villa’s glancing header to angle Filipe Luis’ cross down and inside the far post.
“I’m happy for the win and for feeling healthy again after a long time suffering on the pitch,” said Villa, who had to turn down a call-up from Spain earlier this month with an ankle problem. “I knew I would score goals eventually. I knew that they would arrive because that’s how my career has gone.”
Villa scored again four minutes later when he finished off a counterattack with Betis completely off-balance. He then expertly controlled a long pass, before playing Diego Costa through to roll the ball in for the fourth goal in the 65th minute.
Atletico’s Gabi Fernandez rounded out the thrashing in stoppage-time.
Villarreal’s home victory in the regional derby lifted the promoted side to within two points of third-placed Real Madrid after they lost 2-1 at Barcelona on Saturday.
“We should be very satisfied and pleased with the performance of our players,” Villarreal coach Marcelino Garcia said.