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Five-star Madrid, Messi inspires Barca

Cristiano Ronaldo drew a rare blank but Real Madrid still enjoyed a comprehensive 5-1 win over Athletic Bilbao in the Primera Division.

• Blog: Messi continues hunt for glory
• Blog: Real's Cat out of the bag
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It was unclear whether Real's first goal came from Karim Benzema or an own goal from the unfortunate Jon Aurtenetxe, but there was never any doubt about the result which took Jose Mourinho's side back to within eight points of leaders Barcelona, who had seen off Real Zaragoza earlier in the evening.

Sergio Ramos made it 2-0 after 30 minutes and Benzema made absolutely sure of getting his name on the scoresheet with a superb finish soon after, while Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira also got in on the act at the Bernabeu.

Lionel Messi had scored twice and set up a maiden Barcelona goal for Alex Song as the Catalan giants powered to a 3-1 victory over Zaragoza.

Messi took his season tally for Barcelona to 22 in all competitions with strikes in 16th and 60th minutes while he also turned provider in the 28th minute to help summer signing Song open his account for the club.

Song's goal put Barca back in front after Zaragoza had drawn level through Paco Montanes.

Espanyol slipped to the bottom of the league after a controversial 2-1 defeat at Valencia which saw them end the game with nine men.

Jonathan Viera gave the home side the lead on 15 minutes but Samuele Longo equalised on the half-hour mark and the visitors looked like clinging on for a welcome point.

However, Hector Moreno was adjudged to have handled in the area three minutes from time and after Moreno and Sergio Garcia were sent off for protesting to the referee, Roberto Soldado drilled home the penalty.

Another 11 players were booked in an ill-tempered game which will have done little to boost Espanyol manager Mauricio Pochettino's chances of holding onto his job.

Elsewhere, Malaga's winless streak stretched to four games as they played out a goalless draw against resolute Osasuna at El Sadar.

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