La Liga wrap: Barca stay in control
Barcelona re-established their 13-point lead at the top of La Liga thanks to a 3-1 win over Rayo Vallecano at Camp Nou on Sunday.
Lionel Messi struck twice to extend his incredible scoring streak to 18 consecutive league games, but it was his understanding with David Villa that was the highlight of the match, with both players dispelling rumours of a rift to combine for all three of Barca's goals.
Villa got the ball rolling 25 minutes in by confidently slotting home a feed from Messi, who himself slid in the second five minutes before half-time after latching onto the Spain striker's through ball.
The Argentine would clip home a brilliant third shortly after the hour mark, though Barca were not able to hold onto their clean sheet when Raul Tamudo poked home a consolation for Rayo with 20 minutes to go.
Ateltico Madrid, meanwhile, closed to within one point of second-placed Real Madrid thanks to a 2-0 win at Osasuna - with Diego Costa scoring either side of half-time for the visitors.
Espanyol enjoyed a 2-0 triumph over Malaga, second-half goals from Diego Colotto and Sergio Garcia doing the damage.
In other results, Sevilla right-back Coke bagged a brace in his team's 4-0 thumping of Real Zaragoza, who are just two points above the relegation zone.
Coke opened the scoring after 28 minutes and proved he was the real thing seven minutes after the interval with his second.
Former Arsenal man Jose Antonio Reyes made it 3-0 just after the hour-mark, and turned provider five minutes later for Negredo to complete the rout.
Granada and Levante played out a 1-1 draw at the former's Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes.
A Guilherme Siqueira penalty gave the home side the lead on 32 minutes, but a goal from substitute Robert Acquafresca five minutes into the second half secured a share of the spoils.