Lionel Messi made brilliance look routine with a stunning double to help Barcelona to a 5-nil win over Real Sociedad that restored the Spamish football champions' two-point lead over Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.
Real had gone a point clear thanks to a 3-1 success at bottom side Real Zaragoza, Cristiano Ronaldo blasting in a free kick between goals from Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria.
Barca responded in style with another crushing win, a ninth straight league victory for Pep Guardiola's side that took their goal tally to 26 in their last six matches in all competitions.
Messi's brace lifted him to 17 for the season after 15 games, level with Real's Ronaldo.
Barca have 40 points to Real's 38 and the La Liga giants pulled further away at the top of the standings after Villarreal and Espanyol both lost.
Villarreal went down 1-nil at Getafe and are eight behind Real, while Espanyol, who squandered the lead to lose 2-1 at Athletic Bilbao, are two further back in fourth.