Madrid: Radamel Falcao became the first La Liga player in a decade to score five goals in a match as Atletico Madrid thrashed Deportivo La Coruna 6-0 to keep the pressure on Barcelona at the top of La Liga on Sunday.
The win moved Atletico to within three points of Barcelona ahead of the Catalans’ game at Real Betis later on Sunday.
On Saturday Real Madrid kept up the pressure on the top two with a 3-2 win at Valladolid, but remain five points behind Atletico in third.
Falcao hit a double along with a Diego Costa strike to put Atletico out of sight by half-time.
He completed his hat-trick with a second-half penalty before hitting two more to make him the first player to hit five in a La Liga game since Fernando Morientes for Real Madrid against Las Palmas in 2002.
It means the Colombian has 16 goals in the league this season and it was Atletico’s eighth straight home win of the campaign.
A hapless looking Deportivo side remain bottom of the table on 11 points, level with Espanyol.
Koke and Diego Costa went close in the opening minutes for the home team.
At the other end for Deportivo the veteran Juan Carlos Valeron was pulling the strings in midfield against a team he joined as far back as 1998.
The bottom of the table side looked comfortable until Atletico’s opener on 22 minutes when Costa jumped highest to head home a corner.
Although they nearly equalised when Valeron headed against the post moments after, within five minutes Falcao had doubled the home side’s lead.
Koke found the Colombian wide on the right and the speed and power with which he advanced on goal before hitting a low finish showed again why he is such a hot property.
Deportivo keeper Dani Aranzubia saved well from Costa before Falcao hit his second just before half-time, smashing a half-volley past Aranzubia directly from a throw-in.
His second-half hat-trick began with the penalty he had won himself, before heading the ball from a yard out and having to work slightly harder for his last before shooting home from close range.
For Barcelona, Lionel Messi was given the go-ahead to play against Betis despite injuring his knee in the midweek Champions League 0-0 draw against Benfica.
Messi needs one more goal to equal the record of 85 in a calendar year set by German legend Gerd Mueller in 1972.
Earlier on Sunday, Levante thrashed Mallorca 4-0 with goals from Obafemi Martins, David Navarro, Ruben Garcia and Vicente Iborra to move into sixth position.
A first-half header from Aritz Aduriz, his ninth of the season, was enough for Athletic to edge a competitive encounter with Celta Vigo.