Striker Ikechukwu Uche scored two goals and earned a penalty in Villarreal’s 3-0 win against 10-man Levante UD on Sunday, keeping the promoted side near the top of La Liga.
Sergio Garcia did one better for RCD Espanyol in their 4-1 victory at 10-man Rayo Vallecano de Madrid, earning the dismissal of the opposition goalkeeper before scoring a hat-trick to break a four-game winless streak for the Catalan club.
Sevilla rolled over 10-man Real Betis Balompie 4-0 in the always heated Seville derby, while Elche edged Valencia 2-1 at home thanks to substitute Cristian Herrera’s late winner.
Villarreal’s victory kept them in fourth place and in control of Spain’s last UEFA Champions League spot.
“We are just going ahead game by game,” Uche said. “We are going to try to win all we can and then we’ll see.”
Uche broke free in the penalty area in the 10th minute and was brought down by goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who was shown a straight red card.
Villarreal captain and midfielder Bruno Soriano stroked in the penalty-kick after Javi Jimenez replaced Navas.
Jimenez kept Levante in the match until Soriano delivered a through ball for Uche to score in the 74th minute. The Nigeria international scored again with an overhead-kick in the 89th.
Garcia drew a foul from Rayo goalkeeper Ruben Martinez who was sent off in the 25th minute.
Garcia converted the penalty and then added a second goal for Espanyol from the spot in the 51st minute when striker Jonathan Cordoba was fouled by Anaitz Arbilla.
Saul Niguez gave Rayo some hope with a headed goal in the 81st minute, but Garcia managed to toe the ball home while falling backwards to seal the win two minutes later.
Substitute Christian Stuani hit on the break in the 85th minute to cap Espanyol’s much-needed victory.
“It’s impossible to take the ball from Rayo,” Espanyol coach Javier Aguirre said. “They always have more possession than their rivals, even Barcelona and Real Madrid. We tried to maintain our composure and take advantage of the chances their errors provided us, and early on that’s what we got with Sergio Garcia and Cordoba. If we had pressed Rayo early they would have run over us.”
Sevilla forward Carlos Bacca scored one goal and set up another at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan to keep Betis winless on the road this season and stuck in last place.
Bacca struck two minutes in from a touch pass by Jose Antonio Reyes to set the tone, and Sevilla’s defense dogged Betis up and down the pitch from start to finish.
Betis lost defender Paulao when he was booked for a second time in the 42nd minute for fouling Reyes and Stephane M’bia headed the resulting free-kick taken by Ivan Rakitic through the hands of goalkeeper Sara Guillermo.
After Betis again lost the ball in their own half, Bacca chipped a pass to Victor “Vitolo” Machin to beat Sara from a tight angle in the 65th minute.
Vicente Iborra, who had hit the post earlier, completed the demolition in the 88th minute with a header to turn in Rakitic’s corner.
“We knew that as hosts we had to go at them,” Bacca said after his first game against Sevilla’s crosstown rivals. “The derbies are like finals, you don’t play them, you win them. All week when I was out, at a restaurant eating with my family, people stopped to tell me how important this game was.”
Valencia outplayed Elche in the first half, but could go no closer than Jonas’ shot off the crossbar from close range six minutes in.
Fidel Chaves put Elche in front in the 57th minute with a well-directed header to flick Edu Abacar’s pass off the base of the far upright and into the net.
Valencia pushed Elche into their area and Juan Bernat banged in his own rebound in the 73rd minute after goalkeeper Manuel Herrera parried his initial volley.
Cristian Herrera went on in the 79th minute and five minutes later took Ferran Corominas’ pass and beat goalkeeper Diego Alves with a shot from the left of the six-yard box to claim the three points.