Barca march on, shock loss for Villarreal
Lionel Messi bagged his third hat-trick of the season to inspire Barcelona to a 16th straight La Liga victory, with Atletico Madrid the latest victims in a 3-0 win at Camp Nou.
Messi has now scored an astonishing 37 goals in 31 games this season, with 24 of them coming in just 19 La Liga matches.
The FIFA World Player of the Year netted in the 17th, 28th and 79th minutes to put Barca temporarily 10 points ahead of arch rivals Real Madrid at the top of the table.
Struggling Levante caused one of the shocks of the Primera Division season after ending high-flying Villarreal's unbeaten home record with a well-deserved 1-0 derby triumph.
Villarreal had claimed 31 from a possible 33 at El Madrigal and would have moved to within three points of second-placed Real Madrid with a victory. However, Levante, who had picked up just five points away from home coming into the game, earned the spoils thanks to Valmiro Valdo's breakaway goal just after half-time.
Espanyol's stirring fightback fell short as the Barcelona-based side suffered a 3-2 defeat at Almeria.The hosts raced into a 3-0 lead after just 18 minutes, with goals from Marcelo Silva, Kalu Uche and Bernadello and the latter would prove the decisive strike as efforts from Joan Verdu and Alvaro Vazquez were not enough for Espanyol.
Real Zaragoza's three-game winning Primera Division run came to an end this evening but Said Boutahar at least grabbed his side a point with an equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Racing Santander.
Christian had opened the scoring for the visitors in the 14th minute as they sought only their second away win in the league this term. But Boutahar levelled matters five minutes before half-time and neither side could force a winner after the break, leaving both teams too close to the drop zone for comfort.
Adrian Colunga scored twice as Getafe romped to a 4-1 victory over Deportivo La Coruna to move up to eighth in La Liga. The striker found the net in the 19th and 26th minutes and Miku made it 3-0 by half-time as the hosts dominated. Pedro Rios added a fourth before Riki netted a consolation penalty for Depor.
Osasuna remain just above the relegation zone after failing to hold on to an early lead in a 1-1 draw at home to stuttering Real Mallorca. Looking to follow up last weekend's shock victory over Real Madrid, Osasuna were handed the perfect start when Miguel Flano put them ahead after just seven minutes.
However, Mallorca, who had also lost seven of their 10 away games this season prior to this match, snatched a share of the spoils thanks to Gonzalo Castro's equaliser in the 38th minute.
Athletic Bilbao climbed to fifth place in La Liga to a comprehensive 3-0 win at home to 10-man Sporting Gijon. Both sides entered the game on the back of three successive victories and this clash looked set to be a fiercely-disputed northern derby.
But the game was shaped by the 15th-minute dismissal of Sporting defender Gregory Arnolin, who was given a second yellow for hauling down Fernando Llorente in the area. David Lopez stepped up to convert from the spot and give the home side the lead and fiurther goals from Gaizka Toquero and Llorente sealed all three points.