Veteran Real Betis winger Joaquin Sanchez needed only 20 minutes to score his first career hat trick on Sunday, becoming the oldest player with a treble in the Spanish league. The 38-year-old Sanchez scored in the second, 11th and 20th minutes at the Benito Villamarin Stadium, leading host Betis to a 3-2 win over Athletic Bilbao.
Soccer great Alfredo Di Stefano held the previous record at the age of 37.
Betis’ rival Sevilla was later held by 10-man Osasuna to a 1-1 draw, failing to keep pace with league leaders Barcelona and Real Madrid. Sevilla stayed in third place, three points behind the Spanish powerhouses, which have a game in hand against each other on Dec. 18.
Sanchez came into the match against Athletic with three goals in the season before doubling his tally on Sunday. He scored with a shot from near the penalty spot, then hit a well-placed curling shot into the far corner, and completed the hat trick from inside the area following a breakaway.
“It’s the first hat trick of my life. I don’t think it’s going to happen again,” Sanchez said. “I’ve never been a goal-scorer throughout my career, so I’m really proud to be able to get three goals against a rival like Athletic. Considering my age, it’s not an easy thing to do.”
He came close to adding a fourth in second-half stoppage time, but his close-range strike was saved by Athletic goalkeeper Unai Simon.
“It was a shame he missed his chance for the fourth goal, it was probably his easiest opportunity to score,“ Betis coach Rubi said. “He keeps showing how good he is despite his age.”
Sanchez has played more than 600 matches in his career, most of them with Betis.
He also played for Valencia, Malaga and Italian club Fiorentina. Sanchez played with Spain’s national team from 2002-07, including in two World Cups and a European Championship. It was the third straight league win for Betis, which moved to 11th place with 22 points.
Athletic, sixth with 26 points, was coming off three straight league victories. Inaki Williams and Yuri Berchiche scored the visitors’ goals in Seville. Betis had won only one of its last 11 league matches against Athletic.
Sevilla took the lead with an 11th-minute goal by Munir El Haddadi, but Ezequiel “Chimy” Avila equalized for Osasuna just before halftime.
Host Osasuna held on despite playing a man down from the 61st as Oier Sanjurjo was sent off with a second yellow card.
Sevilla forward Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez had a first-half goal disallowed for offside, and a second-half penalty kick awarded to Sevilla for a foul on him was reversed by video review.
Sevilla hadn’t conceded in three straight matches.
Osasuna forward Marc Cardona had to be substituted in the first half with a head injury. Osasuna said the player was conscious but would undergo further tests in hospital.
GETAFE CHASING EUROPE
Striker Angel Rodriguez scored a second-half winner seven minutes after coming off the bench to give Getafe a 1-0 win at Eibar.
The win left the Madrid club in fifth place, immediately behind the final qualification spot for the Champions League. Getafe finished fifth last season and qualified for the Europa League.
Three goals were disallowed by video review, two for Getafe and one for Eibar, which has lost four in a row and dropped to 16th place, two points from the relegation zone.
REAL SOCIEDAD STALLS
Real Sociedad missed a chance to move closer to the top after a 0-0 draw at Valladolid.
The result left fourth-place Sociedad with 27 points, seven behind leaders Barcelona and Real Madrid.
It was the third straight match without a win for 14th-place Valladolid, which is six points from the relegation zone. The team owned by former Brazil forward Ronaldo hasn’t scored a goal in four consecutive league games.
The weekend results left Atletico Madrid seventh, and out of the European qualification spots. Diego Simeone’s team drew 0-0 at Villarreal on Friday.
On Saturday, Real Madrid and Barcelona won their homes matches to stay tied at the top with 34 points. Madrid defeated Espanyol 2-0, while Barcelona routed Mallorca 5-2 with a hat trick by Lionel Messi.
LEGANES NOT LAST
Leganes beat Celta Vigo 3-2 at home for its second league win of the season.
The result lifted the southern Madrid club out of the last place. It has the same nine points as last-place Espanyol but is ahead on goal difference.
Celta, which played a man down from the 71st, remains inside the drop zone on 13 points.