Barcelona, Spain – Barcelona did just fine without Lionel Messi this weekend as Cesc Fabregas produced his first professional hat trick in the club's 5-0 rout of Mallorca at Camp Nou.
Messi was held out of the La Liga contest through an injury sustained during Champions League play midweek, but Fabregas picked up the slack by scoring three goals and setting Alexis Sanchez up for a pair to see Barcelona cruise past Mallorca with ease.
The opening goal came as a result of some patented Barcelona build-up play in the 20th minute. The Catalans dictated some supreme passing play before Sanchez worked a tidy one-two to allow Fabregas to slot home from close range.
Barcelona's lead was doubled almost instantly as Sanchez turned from provider to scorer. The Chilean followed up on a parried save from Dudu Aouate off of a shot from Fabregas and fired home the rebound to put his side in cruise control.
The Barcelona duo connected on another brilliant give-and-go in the 37th minute to see Fabregas slip a first-time effort into the bottom corner.
Sanchez responded a minute later to see the Catalans make it four before halftime as the winger drifted inside off of a pass from Fabregas and poked a low shot past Aouate.
Fabregas emerged from halftime and picked up right where he left off in the opening period, receiving a through ball from Andres Iniesta before cutting it back onto his right foot and pumping a quick strike into the back of the net.
It proved to be more than enough for the Catalans as the home side closed out the match with no threat from Mallorca.
Barcelona remains top of the league with its 13-point lead in tact. Mallorca slips to the bottom of the table with 24 points.
Real Madrid 5, Levante 1
Madrid, Spain - Real Madrid fell behind but stormed back to claim an emphatic 5-1 win over Levante at the Bernabeu on Saturday.
Michel had put visiting Levante in front just after the half-hour mark, but Madrid answered through Gonzalo Higuain's superb scissors-kick in the 36th minute and Kaka's penalty kick three minutes later.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil did not start the match but came on as reinforcements. Ronaldo scored in the 84th minute and proceeded to set Ozil up for a brace in the final three minutes.
Real improves to 65 points to remain in second place while Levante sees its four-game unbeaten run come to an end.
Real Sociedad 4, Malaga 2
San Sebastian, Spain - Real Sociedad claimed a 4-2 win over Malaga at the Anoeta on Saturday to build itself a four-point cushion for fourth place in the La Liga table.
The home side held a three-goal lead by the half-hour mark thanks to Carlos Vela, Alberto de la Bella and Antoine Griezmann, but Malaga managed to pull one back before halftime through Pedro Morales.
Inigo Martinez and Roque Santa Cruz exchanged second-half goals to see La Real preserve its two-goal edge and improve to 51 points on the season.
Malaga has lost two of its last three La Liga contests to remain on 47 points.
Deportivo 3, Real Zaragoza 2
Madrid, Spain - Deportivo climbed out of the La Liga cellar on Saturday by picking up a 3-2 win over Real Zaragoza at the Riazor.
The match was level at two goals apiece by the halftime interval thanks to goals from Deportivo's Bruno Gama and Carlos Marchena and Zaragoza's Helder Postiga and Francisco Montanes, but it was an own goal from Abraham Minero in the 55th minute that gifted Deportivo all three points.
Things went from bad to worse for Minero as he was sent off nine minutes from time to effectively seal the defeat.
Deportivo has won three La Liga contests in a row to climb to 26 points, one point shy of Real Zaragoza in the final spot outside the relegation zone.