Goals by superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka gave Real Madrid a 2-0 win against a 10-man Villareal in the Spanish League on Wednesday.
Barcelona, a 4-1 winner against Racing Santander a day earlier, leads the standings after four rounds on goal difference, ahead of Madrid on the same 12 points. Sevilla is third ahead of Athletic Bilbao, both on 9.
Elsewhere it was Atletico Madrid 2, Almeria 2; Espanyol 2, Malaga 1; Xerez 0, Deportivo La Coruna 3; and Valladolid 1, Osasuna 2; Tenerife 1, Athletic Bilbao 0; Getafe 3, Valencia 1.
In only the second minute, Ronaldo attacked on the left wing, deftly evaded two defenders, and shot low inside the near post past outstretched goalkeeper Diego Lopez.
Not long after, Villarreal central defender Gonzalo Rodriguez received a yellow card for a rash challenge on Ronaldo, who sent the resulting free kick into the defending wall.
Rodriguez earned a second yellow and his ejection in the 35th for a dangerous kick that hit Kaka in the chest.
Despite being a man down, Villarreal began the second half with some aggressive attacks and strong defense which appeared to catch Madrid by surprise.
After weathering that, Kaka’s left cross struck Villarreal defender Angel Lopez in the hand within the penalty area, and the penalty was slotted in by Kaka in the 73rd.
Madrid’s ninth new player of the season, defender Ezequiel Garay, who was signed a year ago but spent last season loaned back to Racing Santander, was injured in warm-ups before the match and had to be replaced by Fernando Gago.
For Valencia, Juan Mata lobbed to David Silva who, despite having lost a boot, fed Joaquin Sanchez to send in a cross for David Villa, who chested the ball and struck it into the back of the net in the 23rd minute.
Manuel del Moral hit back for Getafe a minute later from a well-timed cross by Jaime Gavilan.
Valencia’s French defender Jeremy Mathieu failed to clear a corner shot by Pedro Leon and del Moral rose to head it in despite goalkeeper Miguel Moya getting a hand to it in the 39th.
Pedro Leon stretched the lead in the 70th with a perfectly struck free kick beyond Valencia goalkeeper Oscar Ustari.
After being taken down by Fernando Soriano in the penalty area, Atletico’s Diego Forlan sent his spot kick wide of the right post in the 19th minute at Vicente Calderon Stadium.
Midfielder Pablo Piatti put Almeria ahead in the 27th but two minutes later Maxi Rodriguez’s shot bounced off a defender and was pounced on by midfielder Cleber Santana for 1-1.
Forlan collected a loose ball from central defender Jose Flores to score in the 56th but then Piatti equalised for Almeria in the 90th.
At Espanyol, Fernando Fernandez’s corner was accidentally deflected by Espanyol defender Juan Forlin past goalkeeper Idriss Kameni for an own goal in the 29th.
Forward Ben Sahar headed in Ferran Corominas’ cross to level in the 56th, but Ivan Alonso put Espanyol back in front in the 81st.
Midfielder Juca’s free kick started Deportivo in the 28th, an own goal by defender Leandro Gioda in the 72nd made it 2-0, and Ivan “Riki” Sanchez finished off the rout of Xerez in the 79th.
Osasuna striker Walter Pandiani’s long-range shot caught Valladolid goalkeeper Jacobo Sanz by surprise in the 27th.
Despite Luis Prieto’s straight red card for illegally challenging Carlos Aranda four minutes before halftime, Valladolid equalised in the 49th when Diego Costa’s shot bounced in off defender Jose Romero.
But Jorge Galan won the match in the 74th.
An unmarked Mikel Alonso scored for Tenerife a minute before fulltime when Athletic goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz failed to come out to challenge him.