Sporting 0-3 Real Madrid
Di Maria, Ronaldo and Marcelo on target as Jose Mourinho's men collect the points at El Molinon
A 10th league win in a row for Los Blancos ensured they remain clear of rivals Barcelona at the top of La Liga ahead of next weekend's Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu
Goals from Angel Di Maria, Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo were enough for Real Madrid to secure a 3-0 victory over Sporting Gijon in an ill-tempered La Liga game at El Molinon on Saturday evening.
The away side dominated the early stages of the game, with Lassana Diarra and Sami Khedira bossing proceedings from the centre of Madrid's midfield, much to the vocal home support's disdain.
Despite their early pressure, neither side created any chances of note in the opening quarter of an hour, although Ronaldo did begin to stamp his influence on the game, giving the Sporting wing-back Roberto Canella a fairly torrid time in the opening exchanges.
In fact it was Ronaldo who fashioned the first real chance of the game, finding space on the edge of the box but then shooting high and wide with his left foot.
Di Maria was then unfortunate to see his thunderous effort parried away by Juan Pablo after Marcelo had done well to pick out the Argentine on the edge of the Sporting box.
Marcelo was finding all sorts of joy getting forward from left-back as the half wore on with Sporting resorting to illegal means to stop the Brazilian at times.
The Uruguayan Sebastien Eguren was the first to find his way into the referee's book, after scything down the left-back on 25 minutes, with Oscar Trejo and David Barral following him into Eduardo Iturralde Gonzalez's book shortly afterwards.
Despite Gonzalo Higuain having a goal chalked off for offside Madrid did not have long to wait for their opener, just minutes later Di Maria robbed Damien Suarez of possession down the left before cutting inside and firing a cute finish past Juan Pablo from a tight angle.
Sporting perhaps should have equalised on the hour mark when Botia headed wastefully wide after Miguel de las Cuevas whipped an inviting free-kick to the back-post.
De las Cuevas then did well again to jink his way into the Madrid box, with the ball falling to David Barral just wide of the goal, but his tame effort was easily saved by Iker Casillas.
Ronaldo made it 2-0 to the visitors with 65 minutes gone, after he and Di Maria exchanged passes on the edge of the box. The Argentine winger then slid a perfectly weighted ball through to his Portuguese team-mate, who drifted past Juan Pablo before firing enthusiastically into an empty net.
A terrific save from Juan Pablo then denied Higuain from making it 3-0, after the forward had been played in by the in-form Ronaldo.
Sporting's Eguren was given his marching orders 10 minutes from the end, after receiving his second booking of the game.
Madrid did eventually add a third in injury time through Marcelo, after the Brazilian burst through on goal and fired a confident finish past Juan Pablo.
This victory cements Madrid's position in first place of La Liga ahead of the Clasico next week regardless of Barcelona's result later on this evening, while Sporting remain in the relegation zone with just 12 points from 14 games.
Barcelona 5-0 Levante
Fabregas, Cuenca, Messi & Sanchez all on target as Pep Guardiola's men keep pressure on Real Madrid ahead of Clasico
Cesc Fabregas' first-half brace opened the floodgates for Pep Guardiola's men, who ran out comprehensive winners to move within three points of their bitter rivals
Barcelona were convincing victors as they thumped Levante 5-0 at Camp Nou in La Liga to keep the pressure on Real Madrid at the top of the table ahead of next weekend's Clasico.
Cesc Fabregas grabbed a brace before Isaac Cuenca gave the home team a 3-0 lead at the break. Lionel Messi and Alexis Sanchez completed the rout in the second half.
The result leaves Pep Guardiola's men three points behind Madrid, who have a game in hand over their fierce Catalan rivals, while Levante remain in fourth spot.
Barcelona started the game brightly and were a goal to the good after only four minutes. Messi found Andres Iniesta, who saw his quick-thinking back-heel trickle to the feet of Cesc Fabregas on the edge of the Levante penalty area. The former Arsenal man controlled the ball before carefully placing it into the bottom corner of the net.
In the 20th minute the Catalan club could have doubled their lead but Gustavo Munua was on cue to deny the home side as he parried Messi's free-kick from 20 metres. From the rebound, Carles Puyol could not make clean contact from close range, with Munua eventually claiming the ball cleanly.
The lead was doubled in the 33rd minute and it was Cesc again who got the better of Munua. Xavi whipped an inviting free-kick into the box and Fabregas leaped highest to power his header into the top corner, leaving the keeper helpless as Barcelona grabbed a rare goal from a set-piece.
Guardiola's men were three up in the 37th minute with a wonderful team goal that was coolly finished by youngster Isaac Cuenca, who registered his second Barcelona goal. Messi's clever run saw the Argentine slide the ball to Iniesta, who then quickly moved it to Cuenca just inside the box for the winger to strike into the bottom - an instinctive finish from the Masia youth product to give his team a comfortable lead at the interval.
Barcelona were 4-0 up in the 55th minute when Messi grabbed his 17th Liga goal of the season to draw level with Cristiano Ronaldo. Substitute Dani Alves slid a precise through ball to the 24-year-old, who made no mistake in slamming his shot into the bottom corner of the net.
In the 61st minute, the home side made it five with a devastating counter-attack. Messi found Alexis Sanchez just inside the box in a yard of space. The Chilean attacker controlled the ball before lifting it over Munua via a slight deflection off Asier Del Horno for his third goal in a week.
Iniesta had a sixth goal controversially chalked off for offside in the 88th minute as the Blaugrana comfortably kept another clean sheet this season.
Barcelona are next in action on Tuesday evening when they face BATE Borisov in the Champions League at Camp Nou before travelling to the Santiago Bernabeu on December 10 to face Madrid.