Barcelona’s and Real Madrid’s respective trios of star forwards all scored goals on Sunday to lead routs for the Spanish powerhouses, while Manchester United turned to Wayne Rooney to get a 1-0 at Liverpool in England.
Luis Suarez struck three times while Lionel Messi and Neymar also scored as Barcelona eased to a 6-0 win over 10-man Athletic Bibao.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema scored two goals apiece after Gareth Bale began a 5-1 demolition of Sporting Gjion.
Here is a closer look at Europe’s top leagues from Sunday: England Manchester United relied on brilliant goalkeeping by David de Gea and a late, opportunistic finish by Wayne Rooney to snatch a win its great rival, sparking talk of an unlikely run at the Premier League title.
With Arsenal only drawing 0-0 at Stoke a few hours later to return to first place on goal difference above Leicester, United trimmed the gap to the leaders to seven points — with 16 matches still to play in one of the most erratic title races in years.
Rooney took his tally for 2016 to five goals in four games by smashing home a volley from close range in the 78th minute after Marouane Fellaini’s header rebounded off the bar. Spain Both victories for Barcelona and Madrid saw their top players substituted due to injury concerns.
A second straight five-goal performance under Zinedine Zidane came at the price of losing Bale and Benzema to right-leg injuries.
Despite the injuries, the vibe at the Santiago Bernabeu was upbeat and all about Zidane’s impact on the team. Ronaldo made a rare appearance to say that the team has immediately clicked with Zidane in a way it never did under predecessor Rafa Benitez.
“The players are more motivated with Zizou,” Ronaldo said. “(He) has given the team a boost.”
Messi presented his fifth Ballon d’Or award before kickoff at Camp Nou, and he soon converted a penalty to set Barcelona on its way. He was then substituted at halftime for precaution after he noted “slight pain,” according to coach Luis Enrique.
As the two powerhouses reveled in their one-sided results, Atletico Madrid quietly churned out a 3-0 win at Las Palmas to retain its provisional lead.
Atletico stayed two points clear of Barcelona, which has a game to play. Madrid remained four points back in third.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico applied the same formula that has put the 2014 champions at the front of the title hunt.
Goalkeeper Jan Oblak kept a fourth straight clean sheet while Antoine Griezmann scored a second-half double after Filipe Luis put Atletico ahead.
Elsewhere, Valencia coach Gary Neville remained winless in six league games since taking over after a 2-2 draw with Rayo Vallecano, while Getafe beat Espanyol 3-1.