Real Madrid had an emphatic 5-0 win over Espanyol on Sunday as Barcelona beat Sporting Gijon 3-1 the previous day, despite the absence of Lionel Messi.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s 30th league goal of the season opened the scoring against Espanyol when he was fed by Gonzalo Higuain in the 22nd minute and Sami Khedira added a second in the 38th minute after a surging run from midfield.
Higuain made it 3-0 just three minutes into the second half before Kaka buried Real’s fourth after some poor defending from Espanyol; Higuain got his second and Real Madrid’s fifth in the 77th minute when Kaka turned provider once again for the Argentine to finish the scoring at the Bernabeu.
Earlier on Sunday, Manchester United’s midweek Europe League opponents Athletic Bilbao beat Real Sociedad 2-0 at home thanks to two goals from Markel Susaeta.
Elsewhere on Sunday, a goal from Sofiane Feghouli was enough for Valencia to beat Granada 1-0 away from home in an ill-tempered game that saw the visitors receive nine yellow cards, while Real Zaragoza pulled off a shock win over Villarreal thanks to two late goals from Luis Garcia and Abraham after Alejandro Martinuccio had put the visitors ahead in the 15th minute.
On Saturday, Barcelona had to overcome Sporting Gijon with just 10 men after Gerard Pique was sent off in the opening minute of the second half.
The current champions went ahead in the 42nd minute after a brilliant quick passing move was finished off by Andres Iniesta but disaster struck for the home team when Pique brought down Miguel de las Cuevas and the referee gave the former Man United defender a straight red card.
It got worse before it got better for Barca as David Barral latched on to a cross from the right in front of Victor Valdes to level the score at the Camp Nou from the resulting free kick of Pique’s sending off.
There was an unlikely hero to the rescue for Pep Guardiola’s side in the 78th minute when Seydou Keita’s brilliant left-footed strike from outside the box put Barcelona in front once again before Xavi settled the nerves of the Nou Camp with a goal in the 87th minute.
Atletico Madrid recovered from their defeat last week at the hands of Barcelona with a 1-1 draw against Sevilla away from home; Eduardo Salvio put Diego Simeone’s side ahead in the 8th minute only for Baba Diawara to equalise in the 52nd minute for the home side.
Malaga climbed up to fifth place in the league with a 3-1 away victory over Getafe; the scores were level going into the last 10 minutes after Eliseu had cancelled out Diego Castro’s opener for Getafe but late goals from Jeremy Toulalan and Santi Cazorla secured the points for the visitors.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Rayo Vallecano beat Racing Santander 4-2 at home with goals from Michu (2), Raul Tamudo and Piti as Marc Torrejon and Gonzalo Colsa got Santander’s goals, while Mallorca and Osasuna played out a 1-1 draw as Emilio Nsue’s second half goal cancelled out Alvaro Cejudo’s opener.