Gareth Bale scored his first hat-trick as a Real Madrid player as Carlo Ancelotti's side brushed aside Real Valladolid 4-0 at the Bernabeu last night. With Cristiano Ronaldo still out nursing a thigh strain, it was left to the world's most expensive player to spearhead Madrid's attack. The former Tottenham forward proved more than up to the task, scoring a header and with both feet for a perfect hat-trick. Bale headed in the first goal 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 with his right foot and, in added time, completed his treble by knocking in a cross from Marcelo with his 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.
United avoid large fees
Manchester United sit at the low end of the table for spending on agents' fees this year despite being English football's wealthiest club, according to figures released last night by the Premier League.
The Old Trafford club have a higher turnover than any of their rivals but only shelled out a comparatively modest £4,317,690 on payments to middlemen in the 2013 two transfer windows. Their figure does incorporate a rise of nearly £700,000 but is still far lower than other clubs vying for the top four such as Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham. United's biggest signing this year was Marouane Fellaini from Everton.
Barnsley sack Flitcroft
Barnsley's manager David Flitcroft was sacked last night following their 3-0 home defeat against Birmingham City. The result consigned the Tykes, who have won only one of their last 10 matches, to the bottom of the Championship. Flitcroft, 39, was in charge of the club for less than a year after taking over from Keith Hill last December. A club statement read: "Barnsley can confirm David Flitcroft has been relieved of his position at the club. Technical coach Martin Scott and strength and conditioning coach Guy Proctor have also parted company with the club. Assistant manager Micky Mellon has been placed in caretaker charge of first-team affairs, assisted by development coach Paul Heckingbottom." Paul Caddis struck twice in the first half for Lee Clark's side before Nikola Zigic chipped in.
Quinn too mighty for QPR
Paul Quinn was the unlikely match winner for Doncaster Rovers yesterday as the struggling Championship side came from behind to inflict Queens Park Rangers' second defeat of the season. The 2-1 win was no more than the hosts deserved for a gritty display after falling behind to Charlie Austin's 43rd-minute goal. Theo Robinson equalised with a curling effort which looked more like a cross in the 48th minute and the match looked to be heading for a draw until Quinn, the Doncaster full-back, headed home from a corner in the 89th minute.
Sting in Miller's tale for Zola
Ishmael Miller increased the pressure on Gianfranco Zola with a debut goal in Yeovil Town's surprise 3-0 win at Watford. Byron Webster headed Gary Johnson's side in front on the stroke of half-time before second-half efforts from Miller – signed last week on loan from Nottingham Forest – and Joe Edwards inflicted a fourth successive home defeat on the Hornets. Zola's side were one of the promotion favourites, having made last year's play-off final.
Mother of all cup upsets
Gary Phillips fired a last-minute winner to clinch a stunning Scottish Cup fourth-round upset for Albion Rovers at home to Motherwell.
The Coatbridge side, who are second-bottom of Scottish League Two, had not beaten their Premiership opponents outside the Lanarkshire Cup in 34 meetings in league and major cup competitions. Albion restricted Motherwell to few chances until the dying moments when Philips struck from 18 yards to claim the 1-0 win.