MADRID: Luis Suarez made history by becoming the first Spanish league player to score four times in two successive games as leaders Barcelona consolidated their return to form with a 6-0 home thrashing of Gijon. This followed their 8-0 win at La Coruna in midweek.
Suarez moved ahead of Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo as the league’s top scorer on 34 goals after netting four times, twice with penalties, in the space of 25 second-half minutes.
Sporting had defender Ognjen Vranjes sent off in the 85th minute for a second booking for fouling Neymar who converted the subsequent penalty. Barcelona and Atletico have 82 points, with Barca top because of a superior head-to-head record. Real Madrid are third on 81 points with three games remaining.
Lionel Messi’s header put Barca ahead on 12 minutes then Suarez converted an Andres Iniesta cross in the 63rd minute before converting twice from the penalty spot. The Uruguayan struck his fourth in the 88th minute, drilling in a pass from Messi.
Atletico Madrid kept up their title hopes with a 1-0 home victory over Malaga but coach Diego Simeone could be facing a three-game touchline ban after being sent off at halftime when a ball was thrown on to the pitch from the technical area. Simeone blamed a ball boy.
Gareth Bale made up for the absence of Ronaldo by scoring twice as Real Madrid came back from two goals down to win 3-2 at Rayo Vallecano where Ronaldo missed his first league game of the season with a muscle strain.
Real suffered another blow ahead of their Champions League semi-final against Manchester City in midweek when Karim Benzema was injured.
Di Maria’s cup
In France Angel Di Maria scored the winner as Paris Saint-Germain beat Lille 2-1 to capture the French League Cup for the third year in succession, and for a record sixth time.
The Argentina winger pounced on to a poor clearance by Adama Soumaoro in the final at the Stade de France in the 74th-minute shot.
PSG, who have already retained the Ligue 1 title, had been reduced to 10 men three minutes earlier when midfielder Adrien Rabiot received a second yellow card for a foul on Lille playmaker Soufiane Boufal.
Midfielder Javier Pastore had put PSG ahead with a disputed goal late in the first half, volleying home a punched clearance from Enyeama with Layvin Kursawa in an apparent offside position in the goalkeeper’s line of vision.
Lille, playing in their first final, equalised five minutes into the second period when left back Djibril Sidibe hit a free kick from 22 metres through the wall and past a static Salvatore Sirigu in goal.
In the league Lyon moved up to second after after coming from behind to beat Toulouse 3-2 after a dramatic finale featuring three goals in six minutes.
Bayern almost there
In Germany Bayern Munich, chasing a record fourth Bundesliga title in a row, defeated Hertha Berlin 2-0 but had to put the champagne on ice as Borussia Dortmund beat Stuttgart 3-0 to stay within striking distance.
A deflected effort by Arturo Vidal and a 79th-minute goal from Douglas Costa were enough to give treble-chasing Bayern victory ahead of taking on Atletico de Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals in midweek. They have 81 points with three games to go and can seal the title by defeating Borussia Moenchengladbach next week.
Guardiola is looking to end his spell in Munich with three trophies as Bayern are also through to the German Cup final where they will face Dortmund.
In Italy Stevan Jovetic scored twice as Inter Milan came back from a goal down to beat Udinese 3-1 at San Siro and consolidate fourth place in Serie A.
Striker Cyril Thereau volleyed the visitors into the lead in the ninth minute with Jovetic tapping in the equaliser in the 36th from Mauro Icardi’s cross. Jovetic struck again 15 minutes from time chesting in a cross from Jonathan Biabiany before substitute Eder rounded off the win five minutes into added time.
Inter are four points behind third-placed Roma and 18 adrift of leaders Juventus who visit Fiorentina on Sunday before second-placed Napoli visit Roma on Monday.
In the United States former England and Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard missed an early penalty but capped Los Angeles Galaxy’s 5-2 win over Real Salt Lake with a stoppage-time goal.
** Red Star Belgrade’s Serbian match at top division rivals Borac Cacak was postponed after one of their supporters was killed in a fight with rival fans on Friday night.