Luis Suarez hat trick lifts Barca as Real Madrid and Atletico cruise
Luis Suarez scored a hat trick as a fifth-minute red card to Athletic Bilbao keeper Gorka Iraizoz allowed Barcelona to run out 6-0 winners at the Camp Nou on Sunday.
Iraizoz was sent off for bringing down Suarez, who was through on goal, though Athletic complained that the Uruguayan had fouled defender Xabier Etxeitia to get into that position.
Lionel Messi converted the penalty for his sixth goal already in January.
The game was well in hand in the 31st minute when Suarez played across for Neymar to score with a chip.
The advantage allowed Barcelona manager Luis Enrique to take Messi off at half-time with what he called "a small strain" in his hamstring, but that didn't slow the team down as Suarez got on the scoresheet just two minutes into the second half.
Neymar made a fabulous run to the touchline and fed Ivan Rakitic in the 62nd minute to make it 4-0, and seven minutes later Suarez did well the bring the ball down and score his second of the day.
His hat trick was complete with a header on 82 minutes as Barca stayed two points back of Atletico Madrid in the Primera Division table.
Real Madrid netted four goals inside the first 18 minutes to walk to a 5-1 win over Sporting Gijon.
Gareth Bale needed only seven minutes to build on last week's hat-trick against Deportivo La Coruna as he headed home at the far post from a corner. And just two minutes later, Ronaldo produced a neat turn in the box to beat Gijon keeper Pichu Cuellar.
Karim Benzema then latched onto a precise Bale cross to slam home his side's third with just 12 minutes on the clock, and Ronaldo did nothing to dampen thoughts of another record-breaking victory when he grabbed his second in the 18th minute after sweeping home from a neat cross by Daniel Carvajal.
Benzema then bagged a third before half-time and Isma Lopez picked up a consolation for Gijon in the second half.
Bale left the game after the first half, but Real coach Zinedine Zidane said he is "hopeful" the Welshman's latest calf injury is not too serious. Benzema also left the game after suffering a knock, but Zidane said he was not seriously hurt.
A goal from Filipe Luis and a double from Antoine Griezmann gave Atletico Madrid a 3-0 win at struggling Las Palmas to keep them top of the Primera Division for another week.
Defender Luis sent Juanfran's pass into the far corner on 17 minutes to score his first goal since returning to Atletico from Chelsea, while on 68 minutes top scorer Griezmann finished off a through-ball from Koke to double the lead.
The France forward made the most of another precise pass from the midfielder in the last minute to round off the victory.
Paco Alcacer's late equaliser saved Gary Neville's blushes by earning a haphazard Valencia a 2-2 draw with relegation-threatened Rayo Vallecano.
Rayo took a 15th-minute lead through Jozabed but early in the second half Alvaro Negredo scored a stunning goal from 50 yards to give Valencia an equaliser they barely deserved, only for Diego Llorente to restore Rayo's lead on 69 minutes.
Valencia's frustrations then reached boiling point when Alcacer had what looked to be a legitimate goal ruled offside, but the striker netted again with 88 minutes gone to avoid what would have been a disastrous result for Valencia, with the home supporters greeting both the half-time and full-time whistles with more whistling of their own.
Neville's side sit 10th in the Primera Division table after 20 games, 16 points behind the final Champions League spot, and have not won a game since Nov. 7 when they thrashed Celta 5-1.
Rayo's last victory came that same day, against Granada, and the Vallecas club are in the midst of their worst run since 2003, when they were relegated, and they remain in the drop zone.
Getafe moved into the top half of the table by rallying for a 3-1 win at home against Espanyol.
After Hernan Perez had given the visitors the lead, Getafe struck back less than three minutes later through Pedro Leon, and Pablo Sarabia then put them ahead.
Moi Gomez added a third Getafe goal late on to seal the three points.
Information from Press Association was used in this report.