Barcelona continue to dictate an unrelenting pace at the top of La Liga after beating Real Zaragoza, while Real Madrid hammered Athletic Bilbao and Valencia edged out Espanyol.

Lionel Messi scored twice and set up a first Barcelona goal for Alex Song as the leaders powered on at the top of the Primera Division with a 3-1 victory over Real Zaragoza.

Messi, who made his Barca debut almost nine years to the day as a 16-year-old, opened the scoring on 16 minutes with a composed finish after exchanging passes with Jordi Alba.

Zaragoza levelled on 24 minutes through Paco Montanes' deflected effort before Barcelona restored their lead four minutes later when Messi teed up former Arsenal midfielder Song.

Argentine ace Messi then rounded off the scoring with his 22nd goal of the season in all competitions by curling home inside the post on the hour mark.

Karim Benzema scored twice and set up another as Real Madrid stayed within eight points of Barcelona following a 5-1 thrashing of Athletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The reigning champions took a 12th minute lead through Benzema's lob from the edge of the area before Sergio Ramos doubled the advantage on the half-hour by heading home Mesut Ozil's free-kick.

A superb curling effort from Benzema two minutes later confirmed Real's dominance, only for Bilbao to pull a goal back before half-time when Ibai Gomez's first-time shot arced inside the upright.

But Benzema turned provider 11 minutes into the second half when he unselfishly laid the ball on a plate for Ozil to score from six yards out and Sami Khedira completed the rout with a low finish on 72 minutes.

Malaga's winless streak in the Primera Division stretched to four games as they failed to find a way through a resolute Osasuna at El Sadar.

Osasuna started brightly and felt aggrieved when Kike Sola had the ball in the net after just two minutes, only for the goal to be wrongly ruled out for offside, while they also twice tested Malaga keeper Willy Caballero late on.

Espanyol slipped to the bottom of the Primera Division after a controversial 2-1 defeat at Valencia which saw them end the game with nine men.

Jonathan Viera gave the home side the lead on 15 minutes but Samuele Longo equalised on the half-hour mark and the visitors looked like clinging on for a welcome point.

However, Hector Moreno was adjudged to have handled in the area three minutes from time and, after Moreno and Sergio Garcia were sent off for protesting to the referee, Roberto Soldado drilled home the penalty.

Another 11 players were booked in an ill-tempered game which will have done little to boost Espanyol manager Mauricio Pochettino's chances of holding onto his job.