Madrid: A hat-trick from 40 million-euro signing Radamel Falcao helped Atletico Madrid to their first away win of the La Liga season as they beat Real Sociedad 4-0 on Saturday.

Coach Diego Simeone has seen his side pick up seven points from a possible nine since his arrival at the Calderon and they are now on the fringes of the European places, behind sixth-placed Athletic Bilbao only on goal difference.

Colombian international Falcao put Atletico ahead after just three minutes from the penalty spot following a handball from Vadim Demidov.

After the break Adrian Lopez extended the lead at the second attempt after the keeper blocked his header.

Falcao lobbed the keeper after spotting him off his line with eight minutes to go and then fired in his third in the final minute taking his season's league tally to 14 goals, just five behind Lionel Messi.

"This is the best win so far," said Simeone.

An Alvaro Negredo header before half-time earned 10-man Sevilla a 1-1 draw with Real Betis in a typically highly-charged derby played at a frenetic pace.

Neither side gave an inch for the full 90 minutes in their first meeting in three years, and in the end Sevilla went away the happier after they were forced into some last-ditch defending in the second half.

Negredo saw a shot well saved by keeper Casto Espinosa after just three minutes as Sevilla aimed for a victory in their fight for a place in Europe.

Sevilla had the better of the opening stages and Betis were reduced to counter-attacking, but they still took the lead with a well struck free-kick from Benat Etxebarria after 26 minutes.

Sevilla pressed Betis back and Antonio Luna, through on goal, was denied by Casto before Negredo headed in a Jesus Navas cross after 41 minutes.

In the second half it was all Betis but they were unable to capitalise on seeing their opponents reduced to 10 men with 20 minutes left when Federico Fazio was given his second yellow card.

"The first half was a shame because we showed that we had come for the win and I think we deserved to go in with a lead at the break. When we had 10 men we found it hard but managed to get the draw," said Sevilla coach Marcelino Garcia.

His opposite number at Betis, Pepe Mel, felt the result was fair.

"When we had the extra player we created a lot of chances and so Sevilla had the better of the first half and we were on top in the second," he said.

Espanyol moved up to fifth as they stretched their unbeaten run to five games with a 3-0 victory over struggling Granada.

The Catalan side maintained their good form since Christmas with draws against Barcelona and Sevilla before this result over a sorry Granada who suffered a third successive defeat.

Espanyol dominated possession in the early stages and after a succession of corners they finally got their reward with Jose Baena heading home a set piece at the near post.

Dani Benitez had the chance to draw Granada level but shot straight at the keeper in front of goal and then Espanyol doubled their lead with Joan Verdu slotting home from the penalty spot after Vladimir Weiss was felled by Allan Nyom.

Espanyol eased off in the second half but Granada failed to make the most of their openings while substitute Rui Fonte wrapped up the points for the home side with a close range finish with 10 minutes to go.

Getafe came from behind to beat Racing Santander 2-1 with Jaime Gavilan and Nicolas Miku scoring after Christian Stuani had given the home side the lead.

On Sunday, with the dust still settling on Barcelona's victory over Real Madrid in the first leg of the King's Cup in midweek, Pep Guardiola's side take on Malaga looking to claw back the five-point gap at the top of the table.

Leaders Real are also in action against Athletic Bilbao.

(Agencies)