A first half exhibition of attacking play set Real Madrid up for a 3-0 win over Villarreal in the Spanish League on Wednesday but it still trails surprise leader Levante, which earlier came from behind to beat Real Sociedad 3-2.
Real is in blistering form and has now scored 28 goals in its last seven games in all competitions, an average of four a match, but it is a point adrift of Levante. Champion Barcelona is third two points behind Levante.
Karim Benzema sent Real on its way with a clinical finish after just three minutes.
Kaka fired in the second minutes later against Villarreal whose coach Juan Carlos Garrido is under pressure with the side having not won in seven games.
Angel di Maria finished off a fine team move for the third after 30 minutes and with the game won Real relaxed in the second half while Villarreal offered little threat.
A sensational injury time winner against Sociedad kept Levante in pole position.
Ruben Suarez' injury-time winner allowed Levante to regain top spot in La Liga off champion Barcelona.
The modest side from Valencia is sweeping all before it at the moment in a superb start to the season.
Sociedad went ahead after just three minutes when a poor clearance from the keeper fell to Daniel Estrada who slotted the ball home.
It looked as though it was going to be Sociedad's night as it then hit the post through Alberto De la Bella and had the better of the first half.
Levante came back strongly though after the break with goals from Nano Rivas and Valdo Lopes.
But it appeared as though it would have to settle for a draw with Inigo Martinez equalising with three minutes to go.
However, four minutes into injury time Suarez gave Levante a stunning victory with a free-kick from distance which went in off the post.
A Jordi Alba goal after 82 minutes gave Valencia a 1-0 win away to Real Zaragoza and was a welcome victory after a poor run of just one win in seven matches.
Malaga, though, failed to bounce back from its 4-0 thrashing by Real Madrid at the weekend as it lost 2-0 to Rayo Vallecano while Getafe drew 2-2 at home to Osasuna.
On Tuesday, a Xavi Hernandez free-kick gave a lacklustre Barcelona a 1-0 win over nine-man Granada 1-0 which extended its club record run to seven games without conceding a goal.
The visitor dominated possession from start to finish but lacked a finishing touch. Messi and Pedro Rodriguez went close before Xavi hit a fine free-kick from distance after 32 minutes which flew into the top corner.
It still couldn't wrap the game up with a second goal despite a man extra after Jaime Romero was sent off
In injury time Daniel Benitez was also red carded after being cautioned for a second time.
The results: Spanish League: Real Madrid 3 (Benzema 5, Kaka 11, di Maria 30) bt Villarreal 0; Real Mallorca 1 (Castro 16) lost to Sporting Gijon 2 (Bilic 49, Joao Victor 65-og); Rayo Vallecano 2 (Botelho 7, Tamudo 70) bt Malaga 0; Real Zaragoza 0 lost to Valencia 1 (Alba 82); Levante 3 (Nano 54, Valdo 61, Ruben Suarez 90+3) bt Real Sociedad 2 (Estrada 4, Martinez Berridi 86); Getafe 2 (Guiza 62, 76) drew with Osasuna 2 (Balde 7, 66).
Italian League: AC Milan 4 (Nocerino 30, 32, 90, Ibrahimovic 73) bt Parma 1 (Giovinco 78); Atalanta 1 (Denis 44) drew with Inter Milan 1 (Sneijder 32); Cesena 1 (Candreva 45-pen) drew with Cagliari 1 (Nene 20-pen); Chievo 0 lost to Bologna 1 (Acquafresca 53); Genoa 2 (Jankovic 38, Kucka 89) bt Roma 1 (Borini 82); Lazio 1 (Klose 17) drew with Catania 1 (Bergessio 63); Napoli 2 (Lavezzi 20, Maggio 44) bt Udinese 0; Novara 1 (Gemiti 80) drew with Siena 1 (Calaio 17).
On Tuesday: Juventus 2 (Bonucci 13, Matri 65) bt Fiorentina 1 (Jovetic 57) . — AFP