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By ESPN Staff

Barca maintain eight-point lead

Barcelona ensured their eight-point lead at the top of the table remains intact as they secured a 2-0 victory over Osasuna.

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Lionel Messi netted his 50th competitive goal of the season and David Villa ended his goal drought as Barcelona recovered from their Copa del Rey final defeat with a victory over Osasuna that keeps them firmly on course for the title.

Villa had gone 11 matches without finding the back of the net for his club but he was back on the mark today to put a much-changed Barca ahead at the Camp Nou. However, the home side found it far from easy to finish off their lowly opponents and they needed a late strike from substitute Messi to finally guarantee themselves the spoils.

Gonzalo Higuain scored a hat-trick and Kaka bagged a brace as Real Madrid's second string thrashed Valencia 6-3 in an extraordinary match at Mestalla.

Madrid - given a guard of honour by Valencia after their Copa del Rey win over Barcelona on Wednesday night - raced into a 4-0 lead at the break through a Higuain brace and efforts from Karim Benzema and Kaka.

Further strikes from the Argentinian and the Brazilian in the second period - as well as three Valencia goals, scored by Roberto Soldado, Jonas Goncalves and Jordi Alba - finished a game that ensures the battle for the title continues for at least another two weeks.

Athletic Bilbao strengthened their hold on fifth place with a 2-1 win over Real Sociedad.

Athletic players were responsible for all three goals with Muniain opening the scoring in the 18th minute before Gaizka Toquero doubled the advantage while, moments after the half-hour mark, Javi Martinez put into his own net to give the visitors hope they could not build on.

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