Barcelona and Real Madrid maintained their particular head to head on Saturday in the Spanish Liga Santander as both sides claimed wins which left them neck and neck in the title race.
Barca had to work hard to eventually claim a comfortable win at home to Villarreal, who are battling for a top-four finish themselves.
Neymar opened the scoring against a well-organized rival, but Cedric Bakambu equalized after half an hour after getting in behind the Barca defense.
Leo Messi scored the first of his two goals with the help of a deflection on the stroke of halftime and although Villarreal offered further resistance after the break, further goals from Luis Suarez and a Messi penalty (his 35th league goal of the campaign) sealed the win.
Real Madrid had a much easier task away to a chaotic Granada, who were relegated to the second division a week ago.
Madrid rested key players ahead of next week’s Champions League return leg away to Atletico Madrid and the ‘plan-B’ as it is becoming known worked well again with two goals each from James Rodriguez, who put his side 2-0 up in just 11 minutes, and Alvaro Morata, who scored in the 30th and 35th minute, sealed an easy 4-0 win before halftime.
Saul Niguez scored the only goal of the game as he hit a 69th minute winner to give Atletico Madrid a 1-0 win at home to Eibar.
The win came on the back of Atletico’s midweek defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League and following Sevilla’s 1-1 draw at home to Real Sociedad on Friday. It means that Atletico need just one point from their last two games to assure another third place finish.
Carlos Carmona’s second half goal gave Sporting Gijon a vital win at home to Las Palmas to keep their hopes of avoiding relegation alive, even though they remain three points behind Leganes, who have a game in hand.