CRISTIANO RONALDO scored his seventh hat-trick of the season as Real Madrid beat city rivals Atletico 4-1 to restore their four-point lead at the top of the Primera Division.
The Portuguese's swerving 30-yard free-kick gave the visitors the lead on 25 minutes and was a rare moment of quality in a disjointed first half.
Things livened up after the break, when Radamel Falcao headed in from Adrian Lopez's cross, but Real responded positively and after wasting a host of opportunities retook the lead when Ronaldo dipped another stunning effort over Thibaut Courtois 22 minutes from time.
The former Manchester United man then rounded off his hat-trick with a penalty on 82 minutes before Jose Maria Callejon added a fourth five minutes later.
Valencia moved back into third place, and an automatic Champions League berth, with a 4-1 win of their own over Rayo Vallecano at the Mestalla.
Jonas fired Valencia ahead on 40 minutes before they moved up a gear after the interval, Jordi Alba doubling their advantage midway through the second half.
Diego Costa pulled one back almost immediately, but a Jonas penalty and further strike from Pablo Hernandez made the points safe.
Sporting Gijon gave their survival hopes a welcome lift as a late goal from Gaston Sangoy saw them come from behind to see off Champions League candidates Levante 3-2.
Valdo scored one and set up another for Arouna Kone as the Valencia club twice went in front, but they were pegged back by goals from Oscar Trejo and Alberto Lora.
And Sangoy struck six minutes from time to see Sporting end a run of five league matches without a win.
Jaime Romero scored and was then sent off as 10-man Granada drew 2-2 with Athletic Bilbao.
Romero grabbed a second-minute opener before he was dismissed for violent conduct. Alexandre Geijo doubled the home side's lead in the second half before Fernando Llorente pulled one back for Athletic.
Markel Susaeta levelled the scores for the visitors in the 89th minute.