MADRID: Real Madrid restored order after two straight losses with a comfortable 3-0 win over Las Palmas in the Spanish league on Sunday.
Goals by Casemiro in the first half, and Marco Asensio and Isco in the second, secured Madrid victory at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, keeping it eight points behind leader Barcelona after 11 games.
Barcelona defeated Sevilla 2-1 Saturday to maintain a four-point lead over second-place Valencia, which routed Leganes 3-0 for its seventh straight league win.
Madrid was under pressure after losses at Girona in La Liga and at Tottenham in the Champions League. The team endured a wave of criticism this week, and a convincing home win was needed to ease tensions for the defending champions.
"This win is important to help the team regain its confidence," Madrid defender Sergio Ramos said. "Little by little we are getting back on the right track."
Madrid was in control from the start, and Casemiro opened the scoring with a header following a corner just before halftime.
Asensio added to the lead with a booming, long-range shot into the top corner early in the second half, and Isco sealed the victory from inside the area after a well-placed low cross by Cristiano Ronaldo toward the end of the match.
Asensio and Isco are Madrid's leading scorers in the league with four goals each. Ronaldo remains with only one league goal, although his tally with the club in all competitions is eight. He also scored four goals with Portugal.
Las Palmas is second-to-last in the standings with six points.
"We were playing well but that second goal put an end to our hopes," Las Palmas striker Vitolo said.
On Saturday, fourth-place Atletico Madrid won 1-0 at Deportivo La Coruna with an injury-time goal by midfielder Thomas Partey.
Girona followed its stunning win over Real Madrid with a 2-1 victory at Levante, moving further away from the relegation zone.
It was the third straight league win for the Catalan club, which is playing in the first division for the first time this season.
Girona was coming off consecutive victories at Deportivo La Coruna and against Madrid at home in what had been a tense meeting at the height of a political crisis involving Catalonia and the Spanish government over the region's push for independence.
"The team is showing maturity," Girona coach Pablo Machin said. "We played a very complete match. We've been very consistent."
Midfielder Borja Garcia put Girona ahead at the Ciutat de Valencia Stadium with a long-range shot into the top corner in the 58th, and former Levante striker Christian Stuani added to the lead from inside the area in the 83rd.
The lone goal for the hosts was scored with a header by Enes Unal in injury time.
Levante hasn't won in six straight league games, but it had beaten Girona in the Round of 32 of the Copa del Rey last month.
"We need to improve and find a way to overcome this," Levante coach Juan Ramon Lopez Muniz said. "We must lift our heads and move on."
Girona moved to 10th place in the 20-team standings, while Levante dropped to 14th.
Three goals in the opening half-hour, including two by forward Iago Aspas, gave Celta Vigo an easy 3-1 home win against struggling Athletic Bilbao.
Sergi Gomez started the scoring in the 16th and Aspas added in the 22nd and 26th minutes at the Balaidos Stadium in Vigo.
Raul Garcia scored in the 38th for Athletic, which has lost three straight in the league.
Athletic dropped to 15th with 11 points from 11 games.
Celta is 11th with 14 points.
Substitute Nicola Sansone scored a pair of second-half goals as Villarreal defeated last-place Malaga 2-0 at home to go fifth.
Sansone scored only four minutes after entering the game in the 64th, and added to the lead less than 10 minutes later.
Goals by Willian Jose, Adnan Januzaj and Mikel Oyarzabal gave seventh-place Real Sociedad a 3-1 home win over 17th-place Eibar, whose winless streak reached eight games in all competitions.