Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang opens Barcelona account with hat-trick in Valencia win

Win moves Catalans into fourth position in La Liga

Barcelona's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang vies with Valencia defenders Toni Lato and Omar Alderete at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia. AFP.
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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang opened his Barcelona goal account with a hat-trick as the Catalans beat Valencia 4-1 at the Mestalla.

The former Arsenal striker struck twice in the first half, either side of Frenkie De Jong’s tap-in, as Barca moved into the top four of La Liga.

Aubameyang raced on to Jordi Alba’s through ball to give Barcelona a 23rd-minute lead with a fine finish.

He put Barcelona in cruise control after 38 minutes by cushioning Gavi’s pass and slotting home, and was then credited with their fourth after the game.

Pedri had initially taken the praise for restoring Barcelona’s three-goal advantage after Carlos Soler’s header had given Valencia hope, but Aubameyang was later adjudged to have got the final touch.

Second-placed Sevilla dropped points in their chase of leaders Real Madrid with a 1-1 draw at Espanyol.

Rafa Mir converted substitute Papu Gomez’s cross to put Sevilla ahead after 36 minutes.

Sergi Darder equalised for Espanyol just after half-time when left unmarked from Oscar Gil’s cross.

Sevilla defender Jules Kounde was sent off in the 76th minute after being adjudged to have hit out at Javi Puado, and Julen Lopetegui’s side are now six points adrift of Real.

Willian Jose’s late penalty gave third-placed Real Betis a 2-1 home success over Mallorca.

Vedat Muriqi cancelled out Alex Moreno’s opener for Betis before Jose converted from the spot seven minutes from time.

Updated: February 20, 2022, 9:45 PM