Barcelona cement top spot

Barcelona were back to their brilliant best, crushing Deportivo La Coruna 5-0 at the Camp Nou to maintain their 12-point lead over Sevilla at the top of La Liga.

A mesmerising first half display saw Barca score three times with Lionel Messi, voted second behind Cristiano Ronaldo in the FIFA World Player of the Year award on Monday, Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto'o all on the scoresheet.  Henry grabbed his 11th goal of the season with eight minutes left while Eto'o took his personal tally to 18 with a second from the penalty spot in the closing stages.

The Catalan giants are now 17 matches unbeaten in the league and have set a new record of 50 points at the halfway point of the season. Real set the previous best of 47 points last season.  "It has been a good first half of the season," admitted Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola.

"We have lots of points, have only lost once (in the league) and scored lots of goals. We haven't won anything but we are another small step closer to our goal."

Barcelona had struggled to defeat bottom side Osasuna 3-2 last weekend but Guardiola kept faith with his first choice XI leaving Andres Iniesta on the bench.

"The team is working so well at the moment," said Ivorian midfielder Yaya Toure. "The coach is a winner and he transmits that to us. After two years without a trophy we want one and so do the fans."

Henry should have scored after just 30 seconds with Messi creating the chance in the penalty area, but the French striker shot straight at the goalkeeper. Eto'o then almost scored on the quarter hour mark, dummying two defenders only to scuff his shot.

The inevitable breakthrough came on 21 minutes with Messi dribbling at speed before guiding his shot in off the post for his 12th of the season. Henry went into double figures for the campaign six minutes later, heading in a pinpoint cross from Dani Alves.

Messi should have scored his second with a clear header but missed the target and Eto'o spurned another great chance. The Cameroon forward finally got his goal after 41 minutes with a tap-in. Henry made it 4-0 on 82 minutes and Eto'o completed the scoring with a late penalty after goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia chopped down Carles Puyol and was subsequently red-carded. 

In the late match Renato's goal eight minutes from time saw Sevilla win 1-0 at home over Numancia in a scrappy match with the result moving the Andalusians above Real Madrid into second.

Champions Real entertain bottom side Osasuna on Sunday targeting a fourth straight league win under Juande Ramos.