Real Madrid recovered well from their back to back defeats by claiming an easy win over Rayo while Atletico and Barcelona maintained their excellent form as both registered victory in their tricky away fixtures.

Tata martino’s side passed the test with a closely fought victory, as a penalty by Messi came about after an incident in which Neymar handled the ball before Javi López did the same.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men had lost back-to-back games in La Liga, casting their title challenge in doubt, but a confident victory returned them to winning ways

Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid maintained their top spot in La Liga table as goals from Diego Costa and Koke fired them to a 2-1 win at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday. With Barcelona beating Espanyol earlier on Saturday, Diego Simeone’s men needed to win at San Mames to return to the summit, and goals from the Spanish pair duly provided the maximum haul.

Real Madrid 5-0 Rayo Vallecano: Los Blancos bounce back in style

Real’s push for a 33rd league crown suffered a damaging week as their 4-3 Clasico defeat to Barcelona was quickly followed by a 2-1 loss at Sevilla on Wednesday, but Bale provided the perfect answer by scoring twice on Saturday. Carlo Ancelotti called for focus after the defeat in Seville and the hosts settled any early nerves with a 15th-minute goal; Ronaldo tapping in from Bale’s pass.

The second arrived in the 55th minute as Dani Carvajal scored his first La Liga goal and Bale added number three, ending a run of six Real matches without scoring.

Bale doubled his personally tally for the match with 20 minutes to go, netting after a delightful run from his own half, and Alvaro Morata grabbed the final goal with just over 10 minutes to go, lifting Real to within three points of Atletico.

Disputed Penalty Seals Win for Barca

Will his unstoppable form continue this weekend?

Will his unstoppable form continue this weekend?

Lionel Messi converted a penalty in the 77th minute to hand Barcelona a big three points which maintained the Catalonians to the second spot of the table.

There was nothing doing in the first half between the sides that saw Barcelona dominate possession but Espanyol remained firm and compact in defense. Both Messi and Neymar had golden chances to put the Catalonians ahead, but Messi sent a header high in the 17th minute and then two minutes later Neymar sent a shot high after a brilliant pass from Alves.

Espanyol continued to frustrate their city rivals into the second half but Barcelona slowly started finding more penetration in the Espanyol half.

Piqué nearly found the first goal in the 74th minute but his effort rang off the crossbar. But just a minute later Barcelona got the edge they needed when Javi López was whistled for a handball in the area giving Barcelona a penalty.

Messi stepped up to take the spot kick and converted to give Barcelona the precious goal.

Costa & Koke put Atletico Madrid on top of La Liga

Athletic Bilbao opened the scoring with Muniain but Diego Simeone’s men replied twice either side of half-time to secure all three points at San Mames.

Ernesto Valverde’s side threatened to end Atleti’s run of four straight league victories in just the sixth minute as Iker Muniain punished slack Rojiblancos defending with a neat lob.

However, Costa restored parity with a cool finish for his sixth goal in five games across all competitions as the teams reached half-time at 1-1.

Costa had claims for a penalty turned away early in the second half when he was tripped by Aymeric Laporte, who was later sent off, but it failed to derail the visitors who moved ahead 10 minutes after the break through Koke’s close-range header.

Elsewhere, Sevilla faced shock away defeat against Celta Viga which broke their record win run while Valledolid secured very crucial win over Almeria which brings them above relegation zone. Meanwhile, Real Sociedad received a setback for their European ambitions as they had to settle for a draw against Osasuna.