- Associated Press - Sunday, December 6, 2015

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) - Villarreal forward Cedric Bakambu scored twice to secure a 2-1 comeback win at home over Rayo Vallecano that kept his team in touch with the top of the Spanish league on Sunday.

Real Sociedad striker Imanol Agirretxe also netted a double, with his second goal in the 90th minute sealing a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Eibar in a Basque Country derby.

Sporting Gijon striker Antionio Sanabria went one better by hitting a hat trick for a 3-1 victory over 10-man Las Palmas to end a three-round losing streak.

Rayo midfielder Jozabed Sanchez took advantage of Villarreal’s slack defending of a throw-in to shoot inside the corner of the goal and open the scoring four minutes before halftime.

Bakambu combined several times with Roberto Soldado to provide a constant threat up front but was held in check until his strike partner set him up to level from close range in the 69th.

Bakambu struck again with four minutes to play when he volleyed home Denis Suarez’s cross.

The match at El Madrigal Stadium saw both sides lose players to injury. Rayo’s Patrick Ebert had to be carried off in the 20th, and Villarreal lost Jonathan Dos Santos and Jaume Costa also left the match, all three with left-leg injuries.

Villarreal’s second win in eight rounds lifted it to within one point of Celta Vigo in fourth place and the last Champions League spot.

“These are three very important points because they keep us in the chase,” said Suarez. “We had to win any way we could.”

Agirretxe’s first goal at Anoeta Stadium came in the 10th to cancel out Borja “Baston” Gonzalez’s early opener.

Agirretxe later tapped in Sociedad’s late winner after substitute Bruma used his thigh to knock on Esteban Granero’s lobbed pass.

The goals were Agirretxe’s 10th and 11th of the season, making him the league’s third-leading scorer. Only Barcelona pair Neymar (14) and Luis Suarez (13) have scored more in the competition through 14 rounds.

After failing to win at home this season under former coach David Moyes, Sociedad’s second win in three rounds under new manager Eusebio Sacristan lifted it into 13th place, four points above the relegation zone along with Sporting.

“We are happy because it was very important to get our second win at home after our poor start to the season,” Agirretxe said. “We have started to move away from the bottom and now can look toward the top.”

In Gijon, Sporting’s Sanabria put in a rebound off a save by Las Palmas goalkeeper Javi Varas for his first goal in the 17th.

Nabil El Zhar made it 1-1 in the 38th, but Las Palmas fell apart after Aythami Artiles was sent off with a second booking in the 71st.

Sporting left back Jony Rodriguez assisted Sanabria to score with a header seven minutes later for his second goal before he helped him claim his hat trick with another pass in the 84th.

Elsewhere, Malaga could only manage a scoreless draw at Athletic Bilbao despite playing with an extra man from the 18th when Mikel San Jose saw a direct red card for pushing Charles to the turf.

Leader Barcelona drew 1-1 at Valencia on Saturday, allowing second-place Atletico Madrid and third-place Real Madrid to close the gap with victories.

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