Barcelona returns to La Liga summit with Elche defeat

Barcelona, Spain ( - Barcelona returned to the top of La Liga on Sunday after cruising to a 4-0 victory over Elche at the Camp Nou behind a hat trick from Alexis Sanchez.

Atletico Madrid's victory over Malaga on Saturday saw the club take a brief three-point lead over the Catalans at the summit of the league, but the defending champions wasted little time dispatching the newly-promoted side to reclaim the top spot.

Barcelona started quickly on Sunday as Sanchez opened the scoring just seven minutes into the contest and Pedro made it 2-0 for the hosts after 16 minutes. Barcelona took its two-goal margin into the intermission and kept the pressure up in the second half.

The home side had a golden opportunity to make it 3-0 in the 48th minute, but Xavi sent a penalty kick wide of the right post.

The miss, however, did not deter the Catalans as it was 3-0 just past the hour mark through Sanchez, who then finished his treble in the 69th minute to wrap up all three points.

The result sees Barcelona back to the top of the league with 49 points, ahead of Atletico Madrid on goal differential. Elche, meanwhile, remains in 15th place.

Also in La Liga on Sunday, Vitolo opened the scoring for Sevilla in the 34th minute, while Carlos Bacca and Ivan Rakitic also found the back of the net in a 3-0 victory over Getafe.

Osasuna moved out of the bottom three after claiming a 1-0 home victory against Espanyol courtesy of Alvaro Cejudo's 33rd-minute goal, while Antoine Griezmann and Ruben Pardo scored to lift Real Sociedad to a 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao.