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By ESPN Staff

Big wins for Barca and Madrid

Cesc Fabregas netted a hat-trick as Barcelona cruised to a 5-0 victory at home to Real Mallorca on a night when Eric Abidal made his long-awaited return to first-team action.

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Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez scored two goals apiece in the first half as Barca made light work of their task in the absence of Lionel Messi and Xavi Hernandez.

Fabregas slotted home the opener after 20 minutes, and it was his shot - saved by Dudu Aouate - that provided Sanchez with the chance to open his account two minutes later.

Fabregas then completed his brace on 37 minutes after combining with Sanchez, and then, a minute later, repaid the favour, playing a perfect pass over the top for the Chilean to control and finish.

The relegation-threatened visitors were ruthlessly exposed in the first 45 minutes, and their predicament worsened barely a minute into the second half as Fabregas collected a pass from Andres Iniesta before turning and firing home his third.

There was further good news for Barcelona on 70 minutes as Abidal - a year on from his liver transplant - made an appearance as a replacement for Gerard Pique, earning a standing ovation from the Camp Nou.

A much-changed Real Madrid recovered from another slow start to secure a 5-1 home win over European hopefuls Levante.

Jose Mourinho made seven changes from the team that beat Galatasaray 3-0 to take control of their Champions League quarter-final in midweek.

But with star names Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria initially watching on from the bench they fell behind - for the third successive Primera Division match - to Michel's 31st-minute strike.

The response was swift, however, as Gonzalo Higuain hooked in before a Kaka penalty sent Madrid ahead within eight minutes of falling behind. Ronaldo was brought on at the break and killed the game off on 84 minutes before Ozil added two more to lift Madrid four points clear of third-placed city rivals Atletico.

Real Sociedad opened up a four-point lead on their rivals for fourth place in the Primera Division with a 4-2 win at home to Malaga.

The hosts took a commanding lead in the first half thanks to a frenetic nine minutes in which they found the net three times, through Carlos Vela, Alberto de la Bella and Antoine Griezmann.

Pedro Morales pulled one back for Malaga before the break, but any hope of a comeback was then vanquished by a goal by Inigo Martinez shortly after the re-start.

Roque Santa Cruz scored a second consolation goal with 20 minutes remaining, but a home victory was never in doubt.

The two teams were separated by a point going into the match, but the victory means Real Sociedad are ever closer to qualifying for the Champions League for the first time in 10 years.

Deportivo La Coruna gave their hopes of avoiding relegation a fillip by beating fellow strugglers Real Zaragoza 3-2 in a thriller at the Riazor.

Bruno Gama put the Galicians ahead early in the first half but Helder Postiga levelled from the penalty spot and then Paco Montanes put Manolo Jimenez's visitors ahead.

However, Carlos Marchena equalised before half-time and Depor took the lead for a second time 10 minutes into the second half thanks to an own goal by Abraham Minero, whose night was made even worse when he was sent off with nine minutes remaining.

Depor have now won three consecutive games and moved off the bottom of the table for the first time since December 2. Meanwhile, Zaragoza, who have not been in the relegation zone once all season, could find themselves in it by Sunday lunchtime.

Information from the Press Association was used in this report


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