Villa double helps Atletico close in on Barca
David Villa ended his seven-game scoring drought with a double as Atletico Madrid closed to within a point of Barcelona at the top of La Liga with a 5-0 win over Real Betis.
Eighteen-year-old sensation Oliver Torres got the hosts off the perfect start on his full league debut with the fastest goal this season after just 13 seconds.
Villa then made the game safe with a quickfire brace just after half-time.
La Liga's top-scorer Diego Costa took his tally to 13 goals in 13 games in all competitions when he slotted home from Villa's pass 25 minutes from time before Gabi rounded off the scoring in stoppage time.
Torres had been handed a start in place of the injured Arda Turan and the Spanish Under-21 international was in the right place at the right time as he slotted home at the back post from Koke's cut-back.
Atletico boss Diego Simeone was happy with the impact that Torres made not only with his goal, but his overall display.
"I could see that the team needed the characteristics that Oliver has.
"He was ready to play and he responded brilliantly today. I expect a lot of him, but he is young and still learning."
Costa ought to have scored twice before half-time as he firstly slotted wide when clean through on goal and was then denied by Betis keeper Guillermo Sara who stood up well to turn his effort behind for a corner.
Sara had to be replaced by Stephan Andersen at half-time due to an injury, but the Dane's first job was to pick the ball out of the net as Villa neatly flicked home Costa's cross at the near post eight minutes after the restart.
And three minutes later Villa smashed home his fifth goal of the season after Koke's pass towards Torres deflected fortunately into his path.
"In the second-half we found Villa in the areas where he lives, in the box," Simeone added.
"It is normal for a player of his standing to need to score. We need the best version of Villa and today we saw a glimpse of that."
Costa finally got the goal he craved when Villa's lovely through ball allowed him to plant a left-footed finish into the far corner.
He was then withdrawn with one eye on the upcoming league matches against Granada and Athletic Bilbao in mind, but Atletico still had one more goal in them when Gabi fired low into the corner with the last kick of the game.
Villarreal strengthened their hold on fourth spot with a 4-1 thrashing of Valencia at the Madrigal.
Early goals from Ikechukwu Uche and Hernan Perez put the hosts 2-0 up at half-time before a Giovanni Dos Santos double completed the rout after the break.
Real Sociedad continued their recovery with a 3-0 win over the still winless Almeria to move up to ninth.
Sevilla also moved into the top half of the table with a 2-1 win over 10-man Osasuna.
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