BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Lionel Messi extended his Spanish league scoring record to 18 straight games with a brace in Barcelona's 3-1 win over visiting Rayo Vallecano yesterday, making sure the leader avoided a letdown after their historic Champions League comeback against AC Milan.
Messi set up David Villa for Barcelona's opener in the 25th minute, and Villa returned the favour in the 40th for Messi to take his first goal.
Villa linked up with Messi again in the 57th as the Argentina forward used a delicate chip shot to score his league-leading 42nd goal of the season.
The victory restored Barcelona's 13-point lead over Real Madrid.
Messi scored Barcelona's first two goals in Tuesday's 4-0 win over Milan as they became the first team to ever overturn a 2-0 first-leg away loss in the Champions League.
Meanwhile, Diego Costa scored twice to give Atletico Madrid a 2-0 win at Osasuna's hostile Reyno de Navarra Stadium, keeping his team in the chase for a runner-up finish in the Spanish league.
Elsewhere, Malaga wasted a chance to regain its hold on fourth place by slipping to a 2-0 loss to visiting Espanyol, while Sevilla rolled to a 4-0 win at home over 10-man Real Zaragoza.
Malaga were left in sixth place, while Espanyol rose 11 points clear of the drop zone.
Sevilla's lopsided win left Zaragoza just two points above the relegation zone and winless in 11 rounds.
Sevilla right back Jorge "Coke" Andujar opened the scoring in the 28th and added another goal in the 52nd-- his first goals of the season-- after Zaragoza's Stefan Babovic received his second booking in the 31st.
Jose Antonio Reyes combined with fellow forward Jesus Navas to add a third goal on the break in the 63rd, before setting up Alvaro Negredo to cap the rout five minutes later.
Sevilla have inched up into 10th place after winning their last six games at Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.