A review of the weekend's action in the Spanish Primera Division.
Barcelona saw their unbeaten start in the Primera Division brought to an end as Athletic Bilbao claimed a deserved 1-0 victory at San Mames Barria on Sunday night.
Iker Muniain steered home the only goal of the contest 20 minutes from full-time as Barca slipped to a second loss in five days following their disjointed defeat to Ajax in the Champions League on Tuesday.
While the loss in Europe can be absorbed, defeat in La Liga is much more damaging with Gerardo Martino's men now level with Atletico Madrid at the summit on 40 points, three clear of a Real Madrid side who appear to finally be hitting their straps
With Cristiano Ronaldo still out nursing a thigh strain, it was left to the world's most expensive player to spearhead Madrid's attack. And the former Tottenham forward proved he was more than up to the task, scoring a header and with both feet to net a perfect hat-trick.
Bale headed in the first goal of the evening shortly after the half-hour mark and three minutes later provided a fine cross for Karim Benzema to add the second.
The 24-year old gave Madrid more breathing space 20 minutes into the second half by scoring the third goal with his right foot and in stoppage time completed his treble by knocking in a cross from Marcelo with his preferred left foot.
When the final whistle went he collected the match ball and took it to the centre circle, holding it aloft to salute the appreciative public. He has now scored eight goals in the last seven matches for the nine-time European Cup winners.
The win was Madrid's fifth straight in the Primera Division and meant they closed the gap on leaders Barcelona, who visit Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, to three points.
On Sunday, Brazilian striker Jonas hit an eight-minute hat-trick as Valencia cruised past 10-man Osasuna 3-0 at the Mestalla.
Jonas scored after 45, 48 and 53 minutes as the home side finally ground out a win against opponents who had seen captain Francisco Punal sent off in the 16th minute.
Carlos Bacca scored the opener and then teed up Kevin Gameiro's late winner as Sevilla stole a 2-1 victory from their Andalusian rivals Granada.
Bacca fired Sevilla into a 23rd-minute lead but when Yacine Brahimi equalised from the penalty spot on the hour it was Granada that looked the most likely winners.
The home side pressed for a winner only to be caught out three minutes from the end by substitute Gameiro as Sevilla made it a hat-trick of wins.
Alberto Bueno's injury-time equaliser meant Rayo Vallecano shared the spoils with Real Betis in an exciting 2-2 bottom-of-the-table clash at the Benito Villamarin stadium.
Betis looked to be heading for their first league win in two months when Joan Verdu scored with 11 minutes remaining, but in the 91st minute Bueno struck for the second time in the game to earn Rayo their first draw of the season.
Antonio Amaya had given the hosts a first-half lead which was cancelled out by Bueno early in the second period.
On Saturday, Atletico Madrid came out on top after an awkward match at Elche with a 2-0 win.
Diego Simeone's side had struggled to overcome Fran Escriba's disciplined outfit until Koke broke the deadlock on 62 minutes, and Diego Costa, who had assisted the opening goal by playing to the limits of the law, made sure of the three points 11 minutes later.
Celta Vigo came from behind to claim a vital 3-1 win over fellow strugglers Almeria to climb away from the foot of the table.
Suso scored the opening goal for visitors Almeria in the 10th minute as they went in search of their fourth league win of the season.
However, Fabian Orellana levelled for Celta before second-half scores for Borja Oubina and Charles sealed a win which boosts them clear of the bottom three.
Christian Stuani's 89th-minute own goal gifted Real Sociedad a 2-1 win at Espanyol.
The visitors came from behind after Jhon Cordoba gave the hosts a 31st-minute lead, Antoine Griezmann equalising in the 69th minute.
On Friday night, Villarreal squandered the chance to cut the deficit on the top three as they conceded an injury-time equaliser to Malaga as the teams shared a 1-1 draw.
Bruno Soriano put the Yellow Submarine ahead in the 32nd minute when he slotted Ruben Cani's pass from the left into the bottom right-hand corner of the goal.
They appeared to be heading for their third victory in four games until Weligton headed home Pedro Morales' corner three minutes into added time.
A Pedro Leon goal was enough to guide Getafe to a 1-0 win over Levante.
Pedro struck in the 79th minute after a match which was short on attacking quality.
While victory moved the hosts above Real Sociedad, it leaves Levante in a precarious position as they suffered a fourth successive loss.
"the former Tottenham forward"? I thought you were talking about defender cum midfield/winger Bale...- redgenesis