Atletico Madrid forward Joao Felix played a starring role with two goals and an assist as they crushed visitors Cadiz 4-0 on Saturday to continue their rampant run of domestic form and go top of La Liga.
Club record signing Felix put Atletico ahead in the eighth minute, heading a cross from Marcos Llorente into an unguarded net after Cadiz goalkeeper Jeremias Ledesma had fallen over as he tried to catch a long punt into the box.
Llorente doubled Atleti’s advantage midway through the first half with a finish inside the near post to cap a week in which he was called up to the Spain squad for the first time.
Luis Suarez then combined with Felix to put Atletico further on top early in the second half, his goal being initially ruled out for offside then awarded following a VAR review.
Felix completed the rout with a ruthless finish in added time after a quick break involving substitutes Lucas Torreira and Angel Correa, netting a double for the third time in four matches in all competitions.
A fourth straight league win sent Atletico to the summit on goal difference, level on 17 points with second-placed Real Sociedad, who have played a game more, and one point ahead of Real Madrid in third.
Felix and Suarez, meanwhile, lead the scoring charts alongside Sociedad forward Mikel Oyarzabal with five goals each.
Cadiz have the best away record in La Liga and before facing Atletico they had not even conceded a goal on their travels since returning to the top flight this season, even managing to beat champions Real Madrid last month.
But they were little match for Atletico, who dominated the play and were ruthless in taking their chances.
After going through what coach Diego Simeone described as a transitional season last year, they now look like genuine title contenders.
“We have taken a big step forward this season. All the new players that arrived last season have integrated into the team and started learning what the coach wants from us,” said goalscorer Llorente.
“We can see on the pitch that we are a great team and are very united. We are all working for each other and the results are going our way.”
French midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia made his debut by coming on late in the second half after signing from Valencia last week, further strengthening Simeone’s side.