PHOTO: ARCHIVE FCB

At the bottom, Sporting's win against Sevilla gives them a glimmer of hope, whilst Zaragoza were back to losing ways, beaten 3-0 by Real Sociedad and Villarreal are still just three points clear of the drop zone after going down 1-2 to Getafe on Monday.

Osasuna expose stretched Bilbao

Bilbao boss Marcelo Bielsa left Llorente, Xavi Martínez and Hererra on the bench after their efforts at Old Trafford and Osasuna took full advantage by going two up within the first half hour. Bielsa brought on Herrera and Llorente at half time but although the big centre forward pegged one back, it wasn't enough and Osasuna now sit in sixth on 38 points, two behind Málaga and one ahead of Bilbao. Málaga staked their claim to the fourth Champions League spot ahead of next week's visit to the Bernabéu, thanks to a second half header from Rondon which gave them a 1-0 win over Levante.

Valencia let two goal lead slip

Like Bilbao, Valencia seemed to suffer from the after effects of their midweek European game. After leading 2-0 at half time through goals from Tino Costa and Aduriz, they conceded two after the break to let Mallorca take a point and to make matters worse lost Costa to a late red card which will rule him out of next weekend's trip to San Mames. Real Madrid extended their winning run with a narrow 2-3 win at Betis, where Higuain, Ronaldo (2) got their goals and they are now a massive 26 points clear of Valencia in third place.

Clemente working his magic

Javier Clemente seems to be working his magic at Sporting, who beat Sevilla 1-0 to take them level on points with Racing, meaning he has lost just one game since taking charge – last week's defeat at the Camp Nou – and making next weekend's trip to Granada – just 4 points above them – an even more important clash. Granada went down 2-0 at Atlético Madrid, for whom Falcao scored his sixteenth of the campaign, whilst Real Sociedad easily saw off Zaragoza, thanks to a brace from Agirretxe and a third from Carlos Vela, to lift themselves onto 33 points –only five off a European spot  and leaving Mallorca and Betis just above Granada with 30 points each.

Tamudo sets record in defeat

The weekend's biggest winners were Espanyol, who thrashed Rayo 5-1, with a hat trick from winter signing Ulche and a brace from Coutinho, who came on loan from Inter Milan in January, whilst Rayo's goal was scored by Raul Tamudo, who thus became the only player to score on all three of Espanyol's grounds – Sarria, Montjuich and Cornellá-El Prat. The win leaves Espanyol on 36 points and again within touching distance of a European berth.