Barcelona: Karim Benzema's fourth goal in as many rounds helped Real Madrid beat Alaves 3-0 Sunday and increase its lead at the top of the Spanish league.
Madrid boosted its advantage to five points over Barcelona before the defending champions visit Granada later. Madrid will still have a game in hand.
Madrid dominated the first half and Benzema's opener in the 31st minute came from a one-two with Dani Carvajal, who had gone on as a substitute after Raphael Varane picked up an early leg injury.
"(Benzema) always finds the way to get the team going by either scoring or setting up goals," coach Zinedine Zidane said.
But in its first match since a long international break, Madrid faded in the second half and Alaves threatened to snatch a draw.
The win wasn't secure until the 85th when Francisco "Isco" Alarcon fired in a second goal from a pass by Cristiano Ronaldo. Defender Nacho Fernandez then headed in the rebound after Gareth Bale's free kick came off the bar.
"Before the second goal we were having difficulties, and suddenly Ronaldo makes a pass for Isco, who controls the ball well and scores," Zidane said. "We know that that is what we have and at any moment we can hurt our rivals."
Edgar Mendez had the best shot for Alaves in the 60th when he was left all alone in the six-yard box, only for the forward to drive the ball back past the far post.
Deyverson and Manu Garcia also went close with headers for the Basque team that is outperforming its small budget this season and faces Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final. Alaves remained in 10th place.
SEVILLA 0, SPORTING GIJON 0
Sevilla's slump continued after a fourth consecutive round without a win. That cost it the chance to reclaim third place from Atletico Madrid.
Jorge Sampaoli's side had enjoyed an excellent season but, in the last month, it has been eliminated from the Champions League's Round of 16 and seen its Liga title chances fading away.
"The team isn't taking advantage of its chances," Sampaoli said. "We have to keep working to turn this around."
VALENCIA 3, DEPORTIVO LA CORUNA 0
Goalkeeper Diego Alves saved his fifth penalty of the season, improving his career record in Spain to 21 out of 46.
His save against Faycal Fajr came just before Ezequiel Garay scored Valencia's first goal.
An own-goal by Raul Albentosa put Valencia 2-0 ahead before Jose Cancelo added a solo effort late.