Espanyol thrashes Rayo Vallecano 5-1 in Spain

JOSEPH WILSON Associated Press Published:

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -- Espanyol thrashed Rayo Vallecano 5-1 thanks to Kalu Uche's hat trick for its first win in six games in the Spanish league on Sunday.

The Nigerian striker headed in the fourth-minute opener at Cornella-El Prat stadium as Espanyol sought to rebound from last week's 5-0 loss at Real Madrid.

Coutinho then scored his first goals since arriving at Espanyol on loan from Inter Milan. The 19-year-old Brazilian tapped in a cross from Sergio Garcia in the 10th and slalomed through two defenders to add another in the 23rd.

Uche found the net with a superb chip shot from the edge of the area to make it 4-0 before halftime.

Former Espanyol striker Raul Tamudo pulled one back for Rayo in the 54th, but Uche capped his hat trick from a pass by Garcia in the 68th.

"The satisfaction is enormous after our thrashing at the Bernabeu," Espanyol coach Mauricio Pochettino said. "I'm very proud of the intensity and sacrifice my players showed. We played a great game."

Also, Valencia slipped to a draw 2-2 with Mallorca, while Atletico Madrid beat Granada 2-0 from goals by Miranda and Radamel Falcao to end a five-week winless run.

The victories by Atletico and Espanyol kept both teams in the hunt for a place in European competition next season. Atletico rose to seventh and Espanyol to eighth.

At Mestalla stadium, Valencia went ahead 2-0 by halftime through goals by Tino Costa and Aduriz Aritz, but forward Emilio Nsue pulled one back for Mallorca in the 57th before setting up Victor Casadesus' equalizer nine minutes later.

Valencia remained third, four points clear of Malaga.

Barcelona visits out-of-form Racing Santander and Athletic Bilbao is at Osasuna later Sunday.

On Saturday, runaway leader Real Madrid beat Real Betis 3-2 for a club-record 10th straight away win. Also, it was: Real Sociedad 3, Zaragoza 0; Malaga 1, Levante 0 and Sporting Gijon 1, Sevilla 0.

Villarreal plays Getafe on Monday.