‘It’s still possible’: Kike hat-trick gives Eibar hope in relegation battle | Sid Lowe

Eibar’s 3-0 win over fellow Basque strugglers Alavés was their first victory in 16 games, sealed by their ‘hard-working plank’

On the sixth floor of the tower block at No 1 Indalecio Ojanguren Street they started clapping. A few metres to the right, on the fifth floor of No 2, they began too and soon everyone had joined in: on all the balconies where flags hang and the occupants look out over the pitch, a standing ovation 15 stories high, and in the small stand facing them. Kike Garcí­a made his way to edge of the pitch while teammates and staff applauded an astonishing hat-trick from the man they most wanted to score it: the big, loveable lump whose three goals had just defeated Alavés and given Eibar something to hold onto.

Kike turned up the touchline to the convent end, shook hands with the ball girl hiding from the rain in the corner, stumbled slightly as he went up the metal stairs, and headed along the empty stand where Josu Anuzita, the goalkeeper coach, was waiting to embrace him. Together they sat on the concrete steps watching the final nine minutes of Eibar’s 3-0 win over fellow Basque strugglers Alavés, their first in 16, aware that even the game of his life might not matter – except that every minute matters and the warmth showed that this moment definitely did. History had been made and hope returned, if only for a little while.

Related: European roundup: Atlético survive late Elche scare, Real keep up chase

Celta Vigo 2-0 Levante, Real Madrid 2-0 Osasuna, Huesca 1-0 Real Sociedad, Elche 0-1 Atlético Madrid, Eibar 3-0 Alavés, Valencia 2-3 Barcelona, Granada 0-1 Cádiz, Villarreal 1-0 Getafe, Real Valladolid 1-1 Real Betis

Continue reading…