Two weeks ago, Taty Castellanos had a miss so bad in a one-on-one situation against Barcelona that it forced him to delete his social media accounts because of the insults he received from Girona fans.
The former Major League Soccer scoring leader more than made up for it against Real Madrid on Tuesday.
In a turnaround he said he didn’t think was possible, Castellanos scored four times in Girona’s 4-2 win against Madrid in the Spanish league.
“It’s a dream to be able to score against Madrid, one of the best teams in the world, but to score four times, I could never have imagined,” the 24-year-old Argentine said. “It was a dream night.”
Castellanos, playing on a one-season loan from New York City FC, scored twice in each half to help the Catalan club stun the defending league champions.
He had also scored four times with New York in an MLS match against Real Salt Lake last year. But he had attracted headlines in Spain recently after wasting a clear chance to score in Girona’s 0-0 draw against Barcelona at Camp Nou Stadium on April 10, prompting a wave of insults against him online.
“The other day he had a miss against Barcelona and it looked like it was the end of the world for him,” Girona coach Michel said. “But this is his first season in Europe, coming from a league that is very good but has nothing to do with Europe in terms of rhythm, tactics and situations, so he had to adapt to that and I think that he has been doing that perfectly.”
Castellanos got his four goals in just over an hour of play and from only five attempts. He scored in the 12th, 24th, 46th and 62nd minutes and received a standing ovation from the Girona fans at Montilivi Stadium when he was substituted in the 72nd.
Spanish media said no one had scored four goals against Madrid in the league since Oviedo player Esteban Echevarría in 1947. Robert Lewandowski, who now plays for Barcelona, did it with Borussia Dortmund in a Champions League game in 2013.
Girona moved to ninth place with the victory, its second in three matches, and practically guaranteed its place in the first division next season. The Catalan club is back in the top flight after a three-year absence. Like NYC, it is controlled by City Football Group, the parent company of Manchester City.
The loss further damaged Madrid’s hopes of catching Barcelona at the top of the standings. Barcelona can increase its lead to 14 points with seven matches remaining with a win at mid-table Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday.
“It was a tough night, we played at a very low level in all areas,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said.
The result may also allow third-place Atletico Madrid to cut its gap to Madrid to three points. Atletico hosts Mallorca on Wednesday.
Madrid’s focus has been on the Champions League semifinal against Manchester City and the Copa del Rey final against Osasuna. Ancelotti did use some of his regular starters, though, including Vinícius Júnior, who several times exchanged provocations with Girona fans in the stands and players on the field.
The Brazilian scored Madrid’s first goal with a header in the 34th minute and set up Lucas Vázquez’s goal in the 85th.
After scoring his goal, Vinícius looked toward the stands and started laughing. Fans at one point chanted “How bad you are, Vinícius.” The forward, who is Black, has been targeted by racist insults this season.
Fifth-place Real Betis couldn’t manage more than a 0-0 draw with fourth-place Real Sociedad at home in a key match in the fight for the final Champions League spot. The result kept Betis six points behind Sociedad.
Cadiz lost 1-0 at home to mid-table Osasuna, staying in 15th place and only two points clear from the relegation zone.