Morocco striker Mounir El Hamdaoui scored a hat-trick and set up another goal in his first start for Malaga on Sunday in a 5-0 thrashing of Rayo Vallecano de Madrid in La Liga.
El Hamdaoui joined Malaga at the close of the summer transfer window and with one start he has already equaled his goal scoring tally from last season with Italian club ACF Fiorentina.
“[El Hamdaoui] had a perfect start,” coach Bernd Schuster said after getting his first win with Malaga. “You can’t ask for anything more. He scored, gave assists. He’s a player that is going to help us a lot with his talent and effort. He’s always moving and always wants to receive the ball in a good position. I’m happy for him, because it wasn’t easy.”
Elsewhere, Real Betis Balompie led by midfielder Salva Sevilla’s brace dealt Valencia their third straight loss, a 3-1 defeat in Seville, before both teams turn to the UEFA Europa League.
RCD Espanyol won 1-0 at 10-man Granada thanks to Manuel Lanzarote’s 76th-minute free-kick, while Getafe striker Nicolas “Miku” Ladislao netted a brace in a 2-1 win over last-placed CA Osasuna.
El Hamdaoui volleyed in Vitorino Antunes’ out-swinging cross to open the scoring at La Rosaleda in the 31st minute and nine minutes later the former Ajax player generously squared the ball for Francisco Portillo to make it 2-0.
Malaga’s Eliseu Pereira put the result beyond doubt three minutes after halftime with an unstoppable shot inside the far post.
El Hamdaoui finished off a great team buildup in the 62nd minute with the ball passing through the legs of Portillo, Pedro Morales and Jesus Gamez before he pushed it home.
He then used a hard left-footed strike to drive his third goal between the goalkeeper and post to cap Malaga’s much-needed victory.
“What we saw today was what we were lacking, a great win, with five goals,” Schuster said. “We took a step forward today.”
Valencia’s sloppy passing helped Jorge Molina put Betis ahead in the ninth minute and the striker threaded a through ball for a charging Sevilla to fire by goalkeeper Diego Alves in the 22nd.
Diego Alves made the first of several saves to deny Molina in the 32nd minute, but he failed to stop Sevilla from poking the ball between his legs in the 35th for his second goal of the night.
Valencia defender Ricardo Costa pulled one back with a header from a free-kick in the 67th minute, but his team never threatened thereafter.
“We are trying to improve, but we gave too much away and it’s difficult to win playing like that,” Valencia coach Miroslav Djukic said. “We lose the ball too easily. We need to keep it simple and play more long balls if we can’t make the short pass.”
Valencia host Swansea City on Thursday in the Europa League, while Betis welcome Olympique Lyonnais.
Espanyol’s victory at Los Carmenes kept the Barcelona-based side unbeaten through four rounds to start the season.
Lanzarote gently curled the ball off the post and into the net from a free-kick inside Granada’s penalty area awarded after the referee ruled that goalkeeper Roberto Fernandez had handled a back pass from a defender.
Televised replays showed that the ball appeared to take a deflection off an Espanyol player, suggesting that the free-kick should not have been given.
Granada’s tempers boiled over in the 82nd minute when substitute Odion Ighalo received back-to-back bookings, both for protesting to the referee.
“It felt like an evenly matched game and that we had to stay alert to take our chances,” Espanyol coach Javier Aguirre said. “It looked like a sure 0-0 that could only be broken with a piece of individual brilliance and that’s where Manu Lanzarote was great.”
Miku’s goal-scoring performance for Getafe helped ruin the debut of Osasuna’s new manager Javi Gracia, who replaced the fired Jose Mendilibar two weeks ago.
Osasuna started brightly on the road in Madrid with Roberto Torres scoring in the 24th minute, but Miku headed in a corner-kick that had sailed over goalkeeper Andres Fernandez to level in the 35th.
After his acrobatic kick had sent the ball off the woodwork, Miku used a nifty touch to slip the ball under a defender, before placing his second goal just inside the post in the 52nd minute, sending Getafe on their way to a first win of the season.
Osasuna almost grabbed a draw when Oriol Riera hit the crossbar in the 85th minute, but they remained the only team yet to take a point in Spain’s top flight.