MADRID, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- Alexis Sanchez helped fire FC Barcelona back to the top of the BBVA Primera Liga table with a hat-trick in his side's 4-0 win at home to Elche.
Barca kicked off knowing that Atletico Madrid's win in Malaga on Saturday meant they were obliged to win to return to top spot and Alexis wasted little time in opening the scoring as he put the finishing touch to a magnificent Jordi Alba cross.
Elche showed moments of good passing football themselves and were unlucky to hit the post, before Pedro Rodriguez scored Barca's second of the game after 16 minutes.
Alexis added his second of the afternoon to make it 3-0 after minutes and in a side without Leo Messi, who will probably return to action in the Copa del Rey against Getafe, and Neymar, who was a surprise substitute, he finished off his first hat-trick for the club with a brilliant free kick which brought the fans in the Camp Nou to their feet in applause.
Real Sociedad put pressure on fourth place Athletic Club Bilbao with a 2-0 win in a tight Basque derby where both of the home side's goals came in the end of each half.
Antoine Griezmann put Real Sociedad ahead in the 45th minute with a shot from outside of the penalty area which bounced through a crowd of players and Ruben Pardo killed the game on the break in the 92nd minute after appearing to control the ball with his hand.
Athletic had a good appeal for a penalty turned round when the score was 1-0 after Mikel Bergara appeared to commit a clear handball in the Real penalty area.
Sevilla's recent improved form continued as Igor Rakitic led an convincing 3-0 win at home to Getafe.
Unai Emery's side were always in control and Vitolo opened the scoring on 34 minutes, before further strikes from Carlos Baca and Igor Rakitic killed the game in the second half and to move Sevilla up to sixth.
Finally Osasuna climbed out of the bottom three thanks to a 1-0 win at home to Espanyol. Javi Lopez's error allowed Alvaro Cejudo to score the only goal of the match.
Saturday saw Koke give Atletico Madrid a 1-0 win in Malaga, while Juan Antonio Pizzi enjoyed a convincing 2-0 win in his debut as Valencia coach in the city derby at home to Levante.
Pablo Piatti and Sofaine Feghouli scored the goals, with Feghouli's solo effort another candidate for the best goal of the week.
Meanwhile Almeria defeated Granada 3-0, while Valladolid and Betis produced a turgid 0-0 draw in freezing conditions which helps neither side and which sees Valladolid drop into the bottom three after Osasuna's win.
Real Madrid entertain Celta Vigo on Monday night and will kick off eight points behind Barca and Atletico, while second from bottom Rayo Vallecano entertain Villarreal.