Mista collected a hat-trick as Valencia CF fully profited from Primera División leaders Real Madrid CF’s defeat at the hands of Club Athletic Bilbao, demolishing RCD Mallorca 5-1 to reduce the gap at the top of the standings to a single point.
Madrid, who face AS Monaco FC in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday, went down 4-2 to Bilbao on Saturday and Valencia emphatically capitalised on the slip-up. Surprisingly, however, the home side did not open the scoring at the Mestalla until the 44th minute when Mista headed in a cross from Curro Torres.
The second half was a different story once Rubén Baraja doubled the lead in the 56th minute, tucking away Vicente Rodríguez's free-kick. Miguel Angulo made it 3-0 soon after with a sublime chip and Mista then scored twice in as many minutes to put the match thoroughly beyond the visitors. Samuel Eto'o's late penalty proved scant consolation.
Ronaldinho popped up late on to secure FC Barcelona a 1-0 defeat of Real Sociedad de Fútbol. The Brazilian blended power and placement to perfection to slot in a free-kick with two minutes to go, allowing the Catalan side to collect their ninth consecutive league victory. It meant RC Deportivo La Coruña's 1-0 win against bottom club Real Murcia CF on Saturday, thanks to a Joan Capdevila goal, failed to wrestle the fourth-placed Galician side any advantage.
On Saturday, Fernando Torres celebrated his 20th birthday by scoring one goal and creating the other for Veljko Paunovic as Club Atlético de Madrid overcame Real Betis Balompié 2-1 to hold on to sixth position, while Real Racing Club Santander's game with RC Celta de Vigo produced a remarkable 4-4 draw. Cristian Álvarez, Javi Guerrero, Savo Milosevic and Aleksandr Mostovoi all scored two apiece in a match which saw Mario Regueiro sent off.
Villarreal CF pair José Reina and Quique Álvarez scored own goals in each half as their side went down 2-1 at the hands of CA Osasuna, in seventh. Juan Román Riquelme halved the deficit in the 77th minute for Villarreal, but an equaliser proved out of reach. Tenth-placed Sevilla FC edged out Málaga CF 1-0 thanks to a Salva goal 13 minutes from time while Copa del Rey winners Real Zaragoza were held to a 1-1 draw by RCD Espanyol.