Classy Barcelona crush Deportivo 5-0
Two goals apiece from Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto'o and another from Lionel Messi fired Barcelona to a 5-0 win over Deportivo Coruna on Saturday, extending their Primera Liga lead to 15 points.
Messi opened the scoring on 21 minutes when he received the ball from Xavi wide on the right, raced through a crowd of defenders and wrongfooted keeper Daniel Aranzubia with a low shot off the right-hand post.
Henry netted shortly after with a powerful header from a Daniel Alves cross and then Eto'o drove home the rebound from Seydou Keita's diving header to hand Barca a 3-0 lead at the break.
Henry grabbed his second with just under 10 minutes left, sidefooting into the net after a pass from Andres Iniesta released Xavi on the right.
Aranzubia was then dismissed after he felled Carles Puyol in the penalty area and Eto'o stroked the ball in from the spot to seal an impressive display.
Barca have now amassed a record number of points for the first half of a season, with 50 from 19 matches, eclipsing the previous best of 47 set by Real Madrid last season.
Real, who host bottom club Osasuna on Sunday looking to hold on to second place and put Friday's resignation of club president Ramon Calderon behind them, have 35 points from 18 matches.
Elsewhere, Renato's late strike gave Sevilla an unconvincing 1-0 win over promoted side Numancia and saw the Andalusians move provisionally into second place after 19 rounds of the championship.
The Brazilian midfielder struck with nine minutes left to wrap up a barely-deserved victory against a Numancia side who had missed a host of chances in the first 45 minutes and been reduced to 10 men shortly after half-time.
Sevilla came into this match on a high after beating Deportivo La Coruna three times in a week.
The two sides met twice in the Copa del Rey and once in the Primera Liga, with the Andalusians coming out on top each time.
Manolo Jimenez's men started the day in third, behind second-placed Real Madrid on goal difference alone.
But they had failed to beat bottom club Osasuna in their last home match and struggled to break down Numancia in the early stages of this encounter.
Sergio Kresic's side beat Getafe 2-0 last weekend to move up to 14th place in the table.
And the promoted outfit showed their new-found maturity early on as they absorbed Sevilla's attacks with relative ease.
They also created the first real chance of note after 17 minutes, when Sevilla keeper Javi Varas - in for the injured Andres Palop - did well to push away Asier Goiria's header following a corner.
A minute later, Numancia threatened again, but Varas foiled the visitors once more when he produced a fine save to keep out Jose Javier Barkero's powerful free-kick.
Sevilla were all over the place now and Numancia missed a glorious opportunity to take the lead after 25 minutes.
Goiria put through Gorka Brit with a defence-splitting pass, but the striker - one-on-one with Varas - wastefully blasted his effort over the bar.
Javier Del Pino missed another good chance for the visitors 10 minutes before the break as Sevilla continued to look inferior to the promoted outfit.
But the home side also had their moments before half-time, with Aquivaldo Mosquera and Frederic Kanoute both coming close.
Numancia began the second half with a flourish, though, and Varas was once again called into action to deny Goiria.
The balance of the game changed soon after that, however, when Domingo Cisma was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Now a man up, Sevilla began to dominate proceedings.
But the Andalusians were still struggling to break down Numancia.
The ineffective Kanoute was replaced by Ernesto Javier Chevanton after 63 minutes as Jimenez looked to the bench for inspiration.
The Ecuador striker was making his first appearance after spending three months on the sidelines through injury.
And it showed as he struggled to keep up with the pace of the game.
Luis Fabiano did almost provided the moment of inspiration needed with 16 minutes remaining, but his stunning overhead kick sailed just wide.
And just when it looked as if it would not be their day, Sevilla grabbed a late winner through Renato.
Boris failed to clear Jesus Navas' cross and the ball fell to the Brazilian, who swept home a low shot from six yards to win the match after 81 minutes.
Despite their unconvincing performance, Sevilla move provisionally into second place, where they sit three points clear of Real Madrid.
But the champions can reclaim second place by beating Osasuna on Sunday.
Numancia drop a place to 15th.
In other matches on Sunday, fourth-placed Valencia travel to Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid, in fifth, play at Almeria and sixth-placed Villarreal host Real Mallorca.