Luis Suarez became the first La Liga player to score four goals for the second game in a row as Barcelona, helped by three penalties in the second half, stayed top by hammering Sporting Gijon 6-0 on Saturday.
Elsewhere, Gareth Bale made up for the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo by scoring twice as Real Madrid came back from two goals down to win 3-2 at Rayo Vallecano while Atletico Madrid kept up their title hopes with a 1-0 home victory over Malaga.
Atletico coach Diego Simeone could be facing a three-game touchline ban after being sent off at halftime when a ball was thrown on to the pitch from the technical area.
Suarez moved ahead of Ronaldo as the league`s top scorer on 34 goals after netting four times, twice with penalties, in the space of 25 second-half minutes.
Sporting had defender Ognjen Vranjes sent off in the 85th minute after picking up a second booking for fouling Neymar who scored the subsequent spot kick
The league leaders and Atletico have 82 points, with Barca
top because of a superior head-to-head record. Real are third on 81 points with three games remaining.
Lionel Messi`s stooping header put Barca ahead on 12 minutes but Gijon, who are third from bottom, missed two chances to equalise before halftime.
Suarez eased Barca nerves by tapping home Andres Iniesta`s low cross in the 63rd minute before converting twice from the spot.
The prolific Uruguayan, who also scored four times and provided three assists in Wednesday’s 8-0 thrashing of Deportivo La Coruna, grabbed another goal in the 88th minute, drilling in a pass from Messi.
Barca have now scored 14 goals in their last two league games after picking up just one point from their previous four matches.
“It was vital we won and doing it by scoring lots of goals helps lift our confidence,” said coach Luis Enrique. “We have turned round a very negative run that nobody expected.”