Lionel Messi closed in on Gerd Mueller’s scoring mark as Barcelona crushed Athletic Bilbao 5-1 to set a new record for the best ever start to a Spanish League season and stay 11 points clear of Real Madrid.
Defending champion Real Madrid edged city rival Atletico 2-0 with Cristiano Ronaldo on target to keep its slender hopes of a title repeat alive.
Barcelona has now put together 13 wins and a draw from its first 14 matches to beat the previous best start set by Real in the 1991-92 season.
Gerard Pique put the Catalan side ahead after 22 minutes followed quickly by Messi’s first, which came off defender Fernando Amorebieta on the line, before Adriano Correia hit the third on the point of half-time.
Cesc Fabregas then added to the deluge of goals and Ibai Gomez got a consolation before Messi struck again.
Messi is now just one goal off Mueller’s record of 85 goals in a calendar year set for Bayern Munich and Germany in 1972.
Barcelona had its first sight of goal with a low drive from Andres Iniesta after 12 minutes which keeper Gorka Iraizoz saved comfortably.
It got its breakthrough after a spell of pressure.
Athletic failed to clear their lines from a corner and although Iraizoz repelled Fabregas’ shot, Pique pounced on the rebound to knock it home.
Minutes later and Barcelona doubled its lead due in part to slack defending which has plagued Athletic's season.
Fernando Amorebieta failed to keep tight to Messi who slipped the ball past the keeper and a despairing dive from the defender only served to help the ball over the line.
Messi hit the post before Adriano burst in from the right and fired a Fabregas pass into the roof of the net.
There was no let up after the restart and Iraizoz did well to block Messi but could do nothing to stop Fabregas who fired home an Iniesta pass.
Barcelona was guilty of easing off as Gomez pulled a goal back but Messi had the final say with his second.
Atletico Madrid, riding high in second place rarely threatened in this encounter.
Ronaldo has had a quiet run by his own high standards without a goal in three games but he responded on 15 minutes with a free-kick from fully 30 yards which nestled in the corner.
Ronaldo blazed wide from the edge of the area after 53 minutes and then set up Mesut Ozil to volley home the second from 15 yards.
The Portuguese also hit the post twice in the closing stages.
Mauricio Pellegrino was sacked as manager of Valencia following his side’s 5-2 defeat at home to Real Sociedad.
The game swung on the first half dismissal of Jonas Goncalves with Valencia ahead through Roberto Soldado.
Alberto De la Bella equalised before the break and further goals came from Mikel Gonzalez, Diego Ifran, Imanol Agirretxe and Carlos Vela from the penalty spot while Soldado also got a second.
Spanish League: Getafe 1 (Lopo 57) bt Malaga 0; Valencia 2 (Soldado 2, 73) lost to Real Sociedad 5 (Alberta De la Bella 44, Gonzalez 57, Ifran 64, Agirretxe 83, Vela 90+1-pen); Barcelona 5 (Pique 22, Messi 25, 70, Adriano 45+1, Fabregas 57) bt Athletic Bilbao 1 (Gomez 65); Real Madrid 2 (Cristiano Ronaldo 16, Ozil 66) bt Atletico Madrid 0.
Italian League: Juventus 3 (Marchisio 57, 84, Giovinco 67) bt Torino 0.
Keywords: Spanish League season