Barcelona left their big stars on the sidelines but still managed a comfortable 3-0 victory at Real Zaragoza while Real Madrid won at Athletic Bilbao by the same score.
Barcelona maintained their 13-point lead at the top of La Liga with a 3-0 win at Real Zaragoza. With Lionel Messi among several stars rested by coach Tito Vilanova, the new wave of Barca talent took their opportunity to shine. A Thiago Alcantara strike and a brace from Cristian Tello sealed the win to preserve Barca’s lead and leave struggling Zaragoza in 18th place.
Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid matched Barca’s performance thanks to a double from Cristiano Ronaldo against Athletic Bilbao. Substitute Gonzalo Higuain added a third to rubber-stamp an emphatic win for Los Blancos.
Third-placed Atletico Madrid kept up the pressure on their capital city rivals, Radamel Falcao scoring twice to take his tally for the season to 24 in a comprehensive 5-0 win over Granada. Atletico remain three points behind Real Madrid while Granada are a point above the drop zone.
Real Sociedad continued their impressive rise in the second half of the campaign with a 2-0 win at Rayo Vallecano. Imanol Agirretxe grabbed his eighth and ninth goals of the season as Sociedad clinched their sixth away win of the season.
Julio Baptista’s stoppage-time goal ensured a 1-0 win for Malaga against Osasuna and lifted them above Valencia, who played out an exciting 3-3 draw with Espanyol. Manuel Pellegrini’s Malaga pushed on from their Champions League disappointment, but it looked like they would be thwarted by the Pamplona outfit until Baptista’s clinical finish at the death.
Espanyol’s clash with Valencia was delicately poised at 1-1 after Wakaso’s goal for the Barcelona side was cancelled out by Sergio Canales. Joan Verdu restored Espanyol’s lead with eight minutes remaining before quickfire strikes from Jonas and Roberto Soldado gave the visitors the lead. Espanyol then had Raul Rodriguez sent off, before Sergio Garcia made it 3-3 with the last kick of the game.
Honours were even in the Sevilla derby as Betis and Sevilla shared six goals at the Benito Vilamarin. Two goals from Croatian Ivan Rakitic and one from Alfredo Negredo gave the visitors a 3-0 half-time lead, but the game turned when Sevilla’s Gary Medel was dismissed for violent conduct 10 minutes into the second half. Dorlan Pabon and Ruben Castro exploited Betis’ numerical advantage to pull two goals back and defender Emmanuel Nosakhare grabbed the equaliser in the 89th minute.