Real Madrid brushed Athletic Bilbao aside thanks to a Karim Benzema hat-trick in La Liga on Sunday. Winning at the Santiago Bernabeu helped Real close the gap on Atletico Madrid in second to four points.
Los Blancos do have a 10-point lead over fourth after Getafe replaced Sevilla in the UEFA Champions League places by virtue of a 3-0 win at home.
Valencia are keeping the pressure on the top four after moving up to fifth following a superb 2-1 win away to Real Betis. The UEFA Europa League semi-finalists, expertly led by shrewd manager Marcelino, have found form at the right time of the season.
At the other end of the table, Villarreal significantly eased any relegation worries by edging past Leganes on home soil. By contrast, Levante were pushed closer to danger after dropping two points at home to Espanyol.
- Levante 2-2 Espanyol
- Getafe 3-0 Sevilla
- Real Madrid 3-0 Athletic Bilbao
- Villarreal 2-1 Leganes
- Real Betis 1-2 Valencia
Real have been leaning on Benzema ever since Cristiano Ronaldo was sold to Juventus last summer. Fortunately for Los Blancos, the Frenchman has delivered.
He's been particularly devastating in the air, adding two more headers to a growing collection. A deft chip completed his treble and also underlined how effectively he's replaced Ronaldo as Real's attacking talisman:
Real's remit is clear in this summer's transfer window, to put better support around their prolific No. 9.
Two goals from in-form Goncalo Guedes helped Valencia earn an impressive win away to Real Betis. The Portuguese winger menaced the Betis back line with his pace and perceptive movement, scoring either side of half-time.
Betis were handed a lifeline when Valencia centre-back Gabriel Paulista handballed in the box. Giovani Lo Celso stepped up to make sure from the spot and continue his superb debut season in Betis:
Valencia's task of seeing things out became harder when Rodrigo Moreno was booked for a second time with eight minutes remaining.
A pair of penalties formed Getafe's platform to overwhelm Sevilla. The first was given 10 minutes before the break when Franco Vazquez was flagged for handball in the box.
Jaime Mata stepped up and made no mistake from 12 yards. Sergio Escudero had been booked for protesting the decision, and the left-back was in trouble again in first-half stoppage time.
Escudero received a second yellow card for handball. His dismissal was compounded by Jorge Molina keeping his cool from the spot.
Molina doubled his tally eight minutes after the restart, and Getafe protected the scoreline despite Togo international defender Djene Dakonam receiving a red card.
Villarreal should be nowhere near the drop zone given the quality in the Yellow Submarine's ranks. Said quality showed itself when a powerful attack put the hosts out of sight against Leganes.
A late penalty from former Liverpool man Nabil El Zhar wasn't enough to prevent Villarreal moving a healthy four points clear of the bottom three.
Levante remain in trouble despite battling back to earn a point against Espanyol. The visitors went in front when Sergi Darder teed up Borja Iglesias.
Ruben Vezo hit back for Levante just after the hour mark, but Espanyol were in front again in three minutes, when Naldo set up Marc Roca to score.
Levante appeared headed for defeat until Ruben Rochina quickly turned from hero to villain inside the final 20 minutes. The former Blackburn Rovers midfielder netted the equaliser, shortly before being dismissed for a second bookable offence.