Soccer-Villa denies Barca title shot with quick-fire hat-trick
MADRID, Apr 23 (Reuters) Barcelona were denied the chance of wrapping up the Spanish title today when a stunning quick-fire hat-trick from David Villa gave Valencia a 3-0 win at relegation-threatened Athletic Bilbao.
The Valencia striker grabbed the goals in the space of just four second-half minutes to hit one of the quickest hat-tricks ever recorded in the Primera Liga and take his total for the season to 22.
Villa did not open the scoring until eight minutes from time when he fired past keeper Inaki Lafuente after racing on to a long pass hit from inside the Valencia half.
Two minutes later he squirmed his way past a defender and Lafuente before steering home his second and moments later he completed his hat-trick when he poked in at the far post after some great work by Mario Regueiro and fellow striker Mista.
The result meant that Barcelona's lead at the top has been cut to eight points and no matter what they do in today's late match at Sevilla they will have to wait until at least next week before they can have a chance of winning the title.
Osasuna moved into third place in the table, three points behind Valencia, with a 1-0 win at struggling Real Mallorca thanks to an injury-time strike from French midfielder Ludovic Delporte.
The two results heaped the pressure on Real Madrid who must win their late match at home to basement side Malaga if they are to stay in the hunt for the runners-up spot.
Reuters SHB DB2341