Alberto Bueno proves unstoppable as Rayo topple Levante
Alberto Bueno scored four goals in the space of 14 minutes to help Rayo Vallecano to a dramatic 4-2 win over Levante in Vallecas.
Victor Casadesus gave the visitors the lead in the 13th minute but Bueno levelled 11 minutes later and almost every time the striker touched the ball for the remainder of the half it ended up in the net.
The second half saw far less goalmouth action, but Kalu Uche came off the bench to get a late consolation goal for Levante.
Bueno, who was the top scorer at the 2006 under-19 European Championships, is the only player this season in the Primera Division to score four goals in a game from open play, while the win takes Rayo seven points clear of Levante, who occupy the final spot in the relegation zone.
Rayo made an intense start to the game and could have taken an early lead on two occasions. but Lica was unable to make the most of his chances.
Levante hit back down the opposite flank, with Jordi Xumetra crossing from the right and finding Victor, but the ex-Mallorca man blazed over.
The pair combined again just a minute later and this time the move paid off, with Victor getting ahead of Cristian Alvarez to ram the ball into the roof of the net.
The hosts were struggling to get a foothold in the game but they found one on 24 minutes, when Bueno headed Nacho’s cross from the left in at the near post.
Levante should then have restored their lead when Alvarez failed to hold a cross by Tono and spilled the ball into the path of Victor, who somehow sent the rebound beyond the far post.
But it was Rayo who struck next. Tito put a low cross from the right into the box which Marino tried to catch but instead spilled out in front of him. Bueno got to the loose ball and expertly weaved his way past a defender and Marino to sneak the ball into the net.
The striker was at it again just a minute later. Lica raced down the left wing and crossed for Bueno to dive and head the ball in at the near post and complete his hat-trick.
And the former Real Madrid man was not done yet. Roberto Trashorras curled the ball into the area from the right and the striker hit first time at Marino and then reacted quickly to turn the rebound into the net.
Bueno nearly got a fifth goal before half-time but was unable to add to his tally as he was taken off 19 minutes into the second period.
David Barral hit a post for the visitors and with five minutes left substitute Kalu Uche did manage to score, chipping Alvarez after latching onto a through-ball.
There was a brief moment when Levante looked capable of getting another to set up a tense finish, but Rayo managed to ride out the final few minutes.
Almeria held on to claim a goalless draw at home to fellow strugglers Deportivo La Coruna after playing most of the second half of their Primera Division clash with 10 men.
Striker Koulossa Thievy was dismissed for second bookable offence in the 55th minute to leave his side a man down for a large part of the game.
However, despite Depor’s best efforts, the sides could not be separated thanks to a lack of clinical finishing, meaning the game ended goalless.
Almeria defender Machado Michel was also sent off in the 90th minute but it was too late for Depor to press home any advantage.
The result left Depor 15th and Almeria 16th in the overall league standings, narrowly above the bottom three, in a game both sides would have been looking for a morale-boosting win to boost them away from the drop zone.
Depor’s Jose Rodriguez Martinez had the first chance of the match when he sent a shot from the edge of the area wide of the Almeria goal in the 12th minute before Oriol Riera forced a save from Almeria keeper Julian from 12 yards out.
Martinez sent another chance over the bar in the 25th before Julian denied a long-range effort by the midfielder shortly before the half-hour mark.
The visitors were having all of the chances and Lucas went the closest when his shot from the middle of the area was blocked by Julian in the 33rd minute.
Isaac Cuenca also kept the Almeria stopper busy before the break with a drilled effort from the left of the box, but Almeria held firm and went in level at 0-0 at the break.
The home side started on the front foot early in the second half with Verza’s 25-yard strike causing Depor keeper Fabricio to fumble a save, with Mauro sending the rebound wide of the right post.
Depor’s chances were improved, though, when Almeria striker Thievy was sent off in the 55th minute for his second bookable offence of the match for a foul on Juanfran.
Riera fired over the bar twice shortly after as both sides continued to struggle to break the deadlock with Alex Bergantinos also sending his 79th minute strike from 20 yards skywards.
The clock ticked down and neither side were able to bely their place near the foot of the table by producing a match-winning piece of magic with the game ending in a somewhat frustrating goalless draw.
Michel was then sent off in the 90th minute as Almeria finished with nine men.