Barça remain in charge, Real impressive
Lionel Messi was again to the fore with another masterclass as Barcelona brushed Real Sociedad aside at the Camp Nou tonight.
Messi scored twice as Pep Guardiola's men won 5-0 with David Villa, Andres Iniesta and Bojan also on target as Barça produced the kind of free-flowing football which saw them sweep past Real Madrid by the same scoreline last month.
That defeat saw Real relinquish top spot but they have responded impressively and their fine run continued with a 3-1 win at Real Zaragoza as they remained two points behind their arch rivals.
Mesut Ozil put them ahead after 15 minutes and a trademark Cristiano Ronaldo free-kick made it 2-0 just before the break. Angel Di Maria put Madrid out of sight after 47 minutes with Gabi's penalty seven minutes later nothing more than a consolation.
Espanyol failed to move up to third after going down 2-1 at Athletic Bilbao. With Villarreal losing to Getafe last night, the chance was there for the Catalonian side to become the closest challengers to Barça and Real, and it started well for the visitors when Dani Osvaldo put them ahead after 33 minutes. But Spain striker Fernando Llorente equalised with 17 minutes to go before David Lopez struck the winner five minutes later.
Oscar Serrano made a dream comeback after seven months on the sidelines by netting a last-gasp winner as travel-shy Racing Santander won 1-0 at Real Mallorca. Serrano, who has been absent since May having undergone surgery on a cruciate knee ligament injury, struck the only goal of the game two minutes after appearing as an 88th-minute replacement.
Hercules produced a second-half performance of style and substance to come from behind and beat Malaga 4-1. The Alicante outfit had trailed to Sebastian Fernandez's early opener after a poor first-half showing. However, David Trezeguet, Royston Drenthe, Abraham Paz and Kiko Femenia spearheaded a sublime second-half fightback in which Hercules turned it around to claim three vital points.
Sporting Gijon hit back to take a point off fellow strugglers Levante. A predictably tight game appeared to be heading for a dour stalemate until Felipe Caicedo gave Levante the lead midway through the second half. But Sporting would not be denied and hit back through Sebastian Eguren to take a share of the spoils.