Barca trounce Espanyol

Pedro, Villa strike a brace each in win over city rivals

Pedro and David Villa scored two apiece and Xavi added the other as Barcelona won 5-1 to make it 10 wins in a row in all competitions and extend their unbeaten run to 22.

Espanyol's Pablo Osvaldo had briefly threatened something of a comeback making it 3-1 in the 63rd, when he became the first player to beat Victor Valdes in seven games, but the ever-hungry Barca snuffed out their revival with two more goals.

The champions have 43 points from 16 games in La Liga going into the winter break and opened up a five-point gap over second-placed Real Madrid, who do not play until Sunday when Sevilla visit the Bernabeu.

Earlier, Villarreal broke clear in third with a 3-1 victory over Real Mallorca, climbing on to 33 points, five ahead of Valencia and Espanyol. Valencia moved above Espanyol on goal difference into fourth place after Aritz Aduriz pounced on an error to net a last-minute goal for a 2-1 win at Real Sociedad in the late game.

Espanyol, who had held Barca to a 0-0 draw in the corresponding fixture last year and boasted a 100 percent home record at the start of the day, worked hard to take the game to their visitors.

Lionel Messi uncharacteristically shot over an empty net early on but made amends soon after when he played Pedro through on goal to score the opener in the 19th minute.

Xavi volleyed in from a tight angle as the hosts struggled to clear their lines in the 30th and Messi burst away from his markers to shoot on the hour. When Carlos Kameni could only parry his shot Pedro raced in to poach the third.

Osvaldo broke free to beat Valdes soon afterwards, lifting the home team but their high defensive line was punctured twice more.

Messi and then Xavi sent Villa scampering clear and the Spain striker gave Kameni no chance in the one-on-ones.

Earlier, a superb finish from striker Nilmar topped off Villarreal's win at home to Mallorca.  
Villarreal's neat possession football is reminiscent of Barca's and one such passage of play ended with Santi Cazorla volleying home in the 11th minute.

Jonathan de Guzman equalised against the run of play with a spectacular shot in the 28th minute, but it was a rare sight of goal for the visitors and Italy's Giuseppe Rossi restored Villarreal's advantage from the penalty spot in the 35th.

In other games, Athletic Bilbao climbed to sixth on 25 points after a 2-1 away win at Levante and Deportivo Coruna drew 1-1 at home with Sporting Gijon.

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