Cristiano Ronaldo took his La Liga goal tally to 37 on Saturday as Real Madrid smashed through the 100-goal barrier to move closer to the title.
Ronaldo, who scored twice in the 5-1 demolition of CA Osasuna, is now just three shy of his own record of 40 league goals set last season and there are still eight matches left.
More importantly, his team maintained their six-point lead over bitter rivals Barcelona, who stayed in touch with a 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao, a match which saw fellow free-scorer Lionel Messi grab his 36th league goal.
Saturday’s win in Pamplona took Real to 100 goals scored in 30 league games against just 27 conceded.
Karim Benzema set Real on their way with a delightful volley in the seventh minute, before Ronaldo, on 37 minutes, and Gonzalo Higuain, three minutes later, made it 3-0 at the interval.
Higuain’s strike took the Argentina international to 100 goals in his Real career.
While Osasuna threatened a brief comeback after the break through a Juan Francisco header, Ronaldo struck again after 69 minutes and Higuain wrapped up the scoring in the 77th minute.
A minute from the end, Osasuna substitute Roland Lamah was dismissed for a second yellow card as his team’s six-match unbeaten run came to an end on the day that coach Jose Luis Mendilibar had extended his contract for another year.
At the Camp Nou, Barca went ahead five minutes before the break against Bilbao through Andres Iniesta.
In the 58th minute, Messi scored his 36th league goal of the season after Cristian Tello was felled in the area. The Argentine star now has 56 goals in all tournaments, nine more than his great rival Ronaldo.
Athletic had less than 48 hours to prepare for the match following their 4-2 victory over Schalke 04 in the Europa League and they made several changes, leaving out Fernando Llorente and Iker Muniain.
Guardiola said he would not keep players in reserve with the second leg of their Champions League tie coming up against AC Milan following the 0-0 at the San Siro last Wednesday.
Even so Xavi Hernandez and Carles Puyol found themselves on the bench.
Defender Jon Aurtenetxe headed a Gerard Pique effort off the line, but a goal for Barcelona was on the cards and it arrived through Iniesta after 40 minutes. Known for crucial goals rather than being a regular scorer, he smashed the ball into the roof of the net after being supplied by Messi.
Tello was causing problems for the Athletic defense and he was felled by Javi Martinez in the penalty area after 58 minutes, with Messi firing in Barcelona’s second from the spot.
Malaga’s Champions League hopes suffered a blow as they lost 2-0 at home to Real Betis Balompie.
Real Zaragoza moved off the bottom with a 2-1 victory over Sporting de Gijon, who are now in last place on goal-difference with Real Racing Club de Santander, who were beaten 1-0 by Granada.