Messi at the double again
Lionel Messi and David Villa combined to devastating effect to see off Rayo Vallecano 3-1 and help Barcelona restore their 13-point lead at the top of La Liga.
Rayo could not handle the partnership which accounted for all three goals - Messi netting twice after Villa had opened the scoring.
The visitors remain in mid-table but can feel satisfied with an enterprising display which saw them create numerous chances before Raul Tamudo grabbed a late consolation. They would have been beaten by a greater margin, however, had Barca made more of the plethora of chances which they carved out.
A Diego Costa double gave Atletico Madrid all three points over Osasuna in a 2-0 win at the Reyno de Navarra stadium to close the gap on Real Madrid in second place to one point.
The Brazilian scored the opening goal of the game towards the end of the first half and added the second three minutes into the second period, but was substituted before the end after injuring his ankle, leaving the pitch in visible pain.
Malaga dropped out of the top four in the Primera Division table for the first time in seven weeks after losing 2-0 to Espanyol at La Rosaleda.
Second half goals by Diego Colotto and Sergio Garcia gave the visitors all three points, despite having far less possession than their opponents and taking half as many shots.
The result was Espanyol's first win in four matches and only their third victory away from home, but takes them up to 13th place in the league, while Malaga slip to sixth.
Sevilla kept their faint hopes of achieving a Europa League place alive with a comfortable 4-0 victory over Real Zaragoza.
Coke broke the deadlock midway through the first half before a red card to Stefan Babovic complicated things for the visitors, and the hosts romped to victory in the second period thanks to further goals by Coke, Jose Antonio Reyes and Alvaro Negredo.
Levante's hopes of another European adventure next season are looking increasingly bleak after a 1-1 draw at relegation-battling Granada.
The Valencia-based side enjoyed a memorable maiden campaign in Europe this term, reaching the last-16 before being knocked out by Rubin Kazan, but that run looks to have had a negative impact on their league form.
They were in the top six in January but just one win in 10 matches since then has seen them slump down to 11th place, seven points adrift of the European spots.
Today's result was another disappointing one, although it might have been even worse for Juan Ignacio Martinez's side with Granada taking a 32nd-minute lead through Guilherme Siqueira's penalty.
Levante did at least manage to get back on terms thanks to substitute Robert Acquafresca's equaliser five minutes after half-time, but they could not go on to find a winner in a fractious match that saw 15 players booked.