Real Madrid drew 0-0 at Deportivo La Coruna to slip seven points behind leader Barcelona,which shook off the absence of key players and a recent dip in form to beat Mallorca 3-0 and secure a firm grip on the Spanish League on Saturday.
Lionel Messi,David Villa and Pedro Rodriguez all scored as the Spanish champion put some distance between themselves and Madrid,which couldnt break a stubborn defensive Deportivo despite Cristiano Ronaldo and Emmanuel Adebayor both hitting the post on late chances. Barcelona have 68 points to Madrids 61 with 13 games to play.
The absence of Xavi Hernandez,Carles Puyol,Daniel Alves and Victor Valdes made little difference at Son Moix Stadium as Barcelona overcame early pressure before Messi headed home his league-leading 26th goal in the 38th minute. Seydou Keita scooped into the area for the Argentina forward,who headed the pass forward before using his head again to guide over goalkeeper Dudu Aouate for his 42nd goal of the season.
Villa reached Sergio Busquets well-played long-ball before Aouate and after rounding the Israel goalkeeper rolled home his 17th of the season. Pedros 13th goal was a long-range shot in the 66th that dipped over Aouate into the top of goal.
Earlier,Atletico Madrid twice rallied to secure a 2-2 draw against Sevilla and Espanyol beat Real Sociedad 4-1 to end a four-game losing streak. Also,Sporting Gijon and Zaragoza drew 0-0 in a match of relegation-threatened teams.