Barcelona, Spain – It is a new year but a similar story as far as Barcelona is concerned.
The La Liga-leaders have kicked off 2013 in similar fashion to how they ended the previous year, earning a resounding 4-0 victory over Espanyol at Camp Nou on Sunday in the latest installment of the Catalan derby.
All four goals came inside the opening half-hour as Xavi and Pedro got Barcelona off the mark with goals in the 10th and 14th minutes, respectively.
Pedro completed a brace in the 27th minute with a nifty finish, latching on to a superb through ball from Sergio Busquets and chipping a one-time effort in the back of the net.
The rout was on two minutes later when Barcelona was awarded a generous penalty decision after Cesc Fabregas collapsed in the box under little contact. Lionel Messi stepped up and converted from the spot for his 27th league goal of the season.
Barcelona had two goals disallowed in the second half with both scorers being ruled offside, but it did not spoil the emphatic victory, which sees the club improve to 52 points on the season.
Espanyol's four-game unbeaten run in league play comes to an end as the club remains in the relegation zone on 15 points.
Real Madrid 4, Real Sociedad 3
Madrid, Spain - A brace from Cristiano Ronaldo helped Real Madrid rally for a 4-3 win over Real Sociedad at the Bernabeu on Sunday.
Karim Benzema opened the scoring in the second minute, but Real Sociedad equalized from the penalty spot shortly after as goalkeeper Antonio Adan was issued a straight red card for a rash challenge in the box to deny Carlos Vela a scoring opportunity. Iker Casillas emerged from the bench, but Xabi Prieto converted the ensuing kick.
Sami Khedira and Prieto exchanged goals before the close of the first half, but Ronaldo's goals in the 68th and 70th minutes helped seal the win for Real Madrid despite Prieto completing his hat trick in the 76th minute. Sociedad was left no way back after Daniel Estrada was sent off three minutes later.
Real Madrid remains in third place in Spain's top flight, improving to 36 points. Real Sociedad's six-game unbeaten run comes to an end, leaving the club on 25 points.
Celta Vigo 3, Valladolid 1
Vigo, Spain - Iago Aspas scored twice to see Celta Vigo snap a three-game slide with a 3-1 defeat of Valladolid at the Estadio Municipal de Balaidos on Sunday.
Aspas opened the scoring in the ninth minute, but his goal was canceled out by Alberto Bueno's penalty kick three minutes later. Aspas brought the match back in Celta Vigo's favor, converting a penalty of his own in the 30th minute. Lopez Alex Sanchez added a third for Celta Vigo, scoring in the 52nd minute to put the result beyond any doubt.
Celta Vigo improves to 18 points to pull away from the relegation zone while Valladolid, winless in its last four outings, remains on 22 points.
Mallorca 1, Atletico Madrid 1
Mallorca, Spain - Mallorca denied Atletico Madrid a chance to keep pace at the top of the La Liga table as the two sides played to a 1-1 draw at the Iberostar Stadium on Sunday.
The match was scoreless until the 71st minute when Raul Garcia turned a rebound into the Mallorca net, but the home side battled back and equalized four minutes from time thanks to Kevin's powerful left-footed strike.
Atletico goes to 41 points on the season, 11 points adrift of first-place Barcelona. Mallorca improves to 17 points.