Real Madrid and Barcelona pulled two points clear in La Liga when Cristiano Ronaldo set a club scoring record in Real’s 3-0 stroll against Levante and Neymar becomes leading scorer in the tournament after kicking four as Barca beat Rayo Vallecano 5-2 on Saturday.
Neymar made up for the absence of the injured Lionel Messi as he was twice fouled and scored from the spot. He then netted twice in two second-half minutes before Luis Suarez tapped in ahead of Jozabed’s late reply.
Neymar, 23, now has eight goals for the season to make him the leading scorer in La Liga.
Real barely had to shift into top gear at the Bernabeu, where Ronaldo surpassed Raul with his 324th goal in his seventh season in the Spanish capital.
Barca squandered a host of chances, looked shaky in defence and needed a brilliant Neymar performance to come from behind and see off a Rayo side who played attractive attacking football at the Nou Camp.
The contrasting victories for Spain’s injury-hit big two lifted them to 18 points from eight matches, with Real ahead on goal difference.
Villarreal, the surprise early front-runners, slipped to third but can reclaim the lead with a win at home to fourth-placed Celta Vigo on Sunday, when Atletico Madrid, who are fifth, play at Real Sociedad.
Marcelo fired Real ahead in the 27th minute when he exchanged passes with Ronaldo and blasted the ball past Ruben in the Levante goal.
Ronaldo made it 2-0 three minutes later when he cracked a trademark long-range effort into the corner, ending a rare four-match goal drought in Spain’s top flight for the Portugal captain, his joint-worst run since he joined Real in 2009.