BARCELONA: Neymar grabbed two more goals – after his midweek Champions League hat-trick – as Spanish champions Barcelona beat Villarreal 2-1 to move three points clear at the top of La Liga.
Brazil forward Neymar, who scored three in a 6-1 Champions League win over Celtic in midweek, converted a first-half penalty and then put Barca back in front late on after Mateo Musacchio headed the visitors level early in the second period.
The Catalan side are now on 43 points, three more than Atletico Madrid who host Valencia on Sunday, and five in front of rivals Real Madrid who fought back from two goals down to claim a 2-2 draw at Osasuna after being reduced to 10 men in the 44th minute by the expulsion of Sergio Ramos.
Ibra strikes again
In France Zlatan Ibrahimovic led champions Paris Saint-Germain to a 3-1 win at Rennes which maintained their two-point lead over Monaco.
Thiago Motta put PSG ahead in the first half with the Swede netting his 14th league goal of the season with a penalty and Edison Cavani adding a third in the second half.
Monaco celebrated news that they will not be subject to the new French supertax by winning 2-0 at Guingamp. They missed injured Radamel Falcao but fellow Colombian James Rodriguez set up both goals for Anthony Martial and Layvin Kurzawa.
In Germany champions Bayern Munich bounced back from their home upset in Europe by Manchester City to stretch their unbeaten league run to 41 games with a 3-1 home win over Hamburg.
Bayern will be winter break league leaders even though they do not play next weekend because of their Club World Cup commitment. Their last league defeat was in October 2012.
Mario Mandzukic, Mario Goetze and Xherdan Shaqiri scored the goals. Hamburg’s late consolation came from Pierre-Michel Lasogga.
In Holland Twente Enschede’s Luc Castaignos scored his ninth league goal of the season in a 3-1 home win over Go Ahead Eagles which sent them back to the top of the table.