To score four goals in one match – a poker as its known in Spain – is a rare set of cards to be dealt.
Since Antonio Emery – future manager Unai Emery’s grandfather – conceded the first strike in the history of La Liga nearly a century ago, less than 150 players have ever felt the incandescent joy of scoring as many as four goals in the same game.
Yet, only half a dozen have ever achieved such a feat against the most successful club in the history of the competition, Real Madrid.
Here are each of the select few to have hit those heights against such regal opposition.
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The likes of Johan Cruyff, Romario and Lionel Messi have all been part of Barcelona sides to beat Real Madrid 5-0 but none of them scored as many as four goals in those historic thrashings.
A victory of that scale in El Clasico has become known as la manita – the little hand. When Martin Ventolra bagged a quadruple in Barcelona’s 5-0 thumping of Madrid in 1935, four of the fingers held up belonged to him.
Madrid famously never know when they are beaten. It’s a truism proved throughout the club’s run to a 14th European Cup in 2022 and long before the competition they would dominate was even invented.
Espanyol’s Vicente Martinez Catala had completed his hat trick – and seen teammate Gabriel Jorge find the net as well – inside the opening hour of a seemingly routine league game in March 1940.
However, Los Blancos would not lie down, scoring twice before Catala notched his poker. Two goals separated by less than two minutes left the Catalan hosts hanging on in bonkers 5-4 ding dong.
What better way to start a season than rattling four unanswered goals past Real Madrid?
As La Liga continued regardless of the Second World War, Emilin fired Real Oviedo into a 3-0 lead inside the opening 20 minutes in the first game of the 1944/45 season. The spritely left winger, not a natural poacher but famed for his ability to score directly from corner kicks, added a fourth to his personal haul after the break.
The other players on this list may be able to boast four goals against the mighty Real Madrid but Esteban Echevarria is the only individual in the history of La Liga to score as many as five in the same game against Los Blancos.
The Basque forward peaked a few years earlier with the fastest start to a La Liga season – 14 goals in the first eight games – until Cristiano Ronaldo broke his record in 2014. However, Echevarria still had enough spark in his boots to plunder five goals in a 7-1 rout of Madrid in December 1947.
Up until the night of Tuesday 25 April 2023, Taty Castellanos’ debut season at Girona had been promising but undermined by a lack of clinical edge. That narrative was not so much rewritten but doused in gasoline and set aflame with a ruthless four-goal haul against Real Madrid of all teams.
Castellanos was the epitome of efficiency in front of a deafening crowd, completing just four passes but scoring as many goals from five shots on target in a famous 4-2 victory for Girona.