Barca keep up pace with Real
Barcelona striker Leo Messi recovered from a mouth infection to score his second hat-trick in a week and lead his team to a 4-2 win away to Zaragoza, keeping up the pace of La Liga lead with arch-rivals Real Madrid, Xinhua reported.
Messi scored a first half header and two individual goals in the second half as Barcelona overcame a battling performance from their hosts.
Taking into account the two goals he scored in the Champions League win against Stuttgart on Wednesday night, he has now scored eight of his side's last 10 goals.
Adrian Colunga scored two goals with the score at 3-0 to make Barcelona suffer before Zlatan Ibrahimovich secured the points with a penalty provoked by Messi.
Real Madrid beat Sporting Gijon in controversial fashion on Saturday night. David Barral had put Sporting ahead after 53 minutes, but a minute later Rafael Van der Vaart equalized after clearly controlling the ball with his hand.
Xabi Alonso and Gonzalo Higuain added further goals as the Sporting players were clearly upset by Van der Vaart's goal, which should never have been allowed. Valencia remains third, 18 points behind the leading two giants after a comfortable win 2-0 against Almeria. Juan Mata and star player David Silva scored second half goals in a game Valencia totally dominated. The early kick-offs on Sunday saw Mallorca move into fourth place with a convincing 4-1 win at home to a disappointing Atletico Madrid. Atletico's European efforts on Thursday looked to have taken effect as they were totally outplayed by the home side.
Victor, Aduriz, Mattioni and an own goal from Perea scored for Mallorca, while all Atletico managed was a solitary strike from Diego Forlan.
Malaga took an important step towards safety zone with a 2-0 win at home to Villarreal. Baha scored twice for Malaga.
Meanwhile Racing Santander also eased relegation worries by beating Osasuna 3-1 away from home. Colsa, Cristian and Diop all scored for the visitors after Miguel Flano had put the home side ahead.
The four remaining matches played on Saturday saw bottom of the table Xerez keep its slim hopes of avoid relegation from the La Liga alive with a 2-1 win against fellow strugglers Tenerife.
Valladolid pulled off a shock with a 2-0 win away to Deportivo la Coruna thanks to goals from Nauzet and Medunjanin. The victory ended Valladolid's 10-game run without a win, although the team is still in the relegation zone.
The defeat saw Deportivo drop out of the top six after Athletic Club Bilbao's 2-2 draw at home to Getafe.
Pablo Orbaiz opened the scoring for Athletic, but Manu del Moral leveled just after the half hour. Athletic was then reduced to 10 men after Orbaiz was sent off for kicking out at Getafe defender Cortes, but retook the lead when Fernando Llorente scored a penalty with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Getafe earned a point when Pedro Leon's shot took a slight deflection to make it 2-2 five minutes from time.
Meanwhile Sevilla ended a miserable week, in which the club was knocked out of the Champions League, with a 2-0 defeat away to Espanyol.