Barca and Atletico march on
Barcelona and Atletico Madrid both won on Sunday to move back into first and second place in La Liga, while there were also victories for Almeria and Athletic Bilbao.
Barcelona had been knocked off the summit by Real Madrid's win a day earlier, but they responded in style with a comfortable 3-0 success at home to Malaga.
Gerard Pique opened the scoring from close range five minutes before half-time, and Pedro curled in a fine second goal on 55 minutes after a flowing move.
Another sweeping attack brought Barca's third six minutes later, as Lionel Messi turned his defender and then played in Pedro, who crossed for Alexis Sanchez to finish at the far post.
Arda Turan scored twice as fellow title contenders Atletico Madrid won 4-2 in an eventful match against Rayo Vallecano to join Barca on 54 points.
David Villa pounced on a Rayo error to open the scoring after just eight minutes, and Turan doubled the lead after half an hour, soon after the home side's Jonathan Viera saw his penalty saved.
Viera somewhat compensated for his miss from the spot by reducing the deficit towards the end of the first half, but the hard work Rayo had done to get themselves back in the game was quickly undone by slack defending from a free-kick, which led to Turan's second goal and Atletico's third.
An own goal by Saul Niguez after 75 minutes made sure of the points for Diego Simeone's side, with Joaquin Larrivey scoring the second Rayo consolation.
Athletic Bilbao gave a clear demonstration of their Champions League credentials as they crushed local rivals Osasuna 5-1 with a powerful display.
Aritz Aduriz scored twice, taking the match away from the hosts with his side's second and third goals after Markel Susaeta's opener had been cancelled out by Emiliano Armenteros.
Osasuna were dealt another setback by the 76th-minute sending-off of Alejandro Arribas and Athletic took full advantage.
Substitutes Ibai and Enrique Sola struck late on as the visitors strengthened their hold on fourth place in the Primera Division.
Almeria kick-started their season as they ended a run of four games without a win with a 1-0 victory over Getafe.
Jonathan Zongo's second-half header was all that separated the two sides as Miguel Moya pulled off many great saves to keep the scoreline respectable.
The win moves Francisco Rodriguez's side out of the danger zone while their opponents remain in mid-table following a disappointing run of just one win in their last seven matches.