Football | Barca sweep aside rivals Espanyol
Leaders Barcelona scored five goals away at their city rivals Espanyol for the first time as they made light of a potentially tricky city derby on Saturday.
Pedro and David Villa scored two apiece and Xavi added the other as Barcelona won 5-1 to make it 10 wins in a row in all competitions and extend their unbeaten run to 22.
Espanyol's Pablo Osvaldo had briefly threatened something of a comeback making it 3-1 in the 63rd, when he became the first player to beat Victor Valdes in seven games, but the ever-hungry Barca snuffed out their revival with two more goals.
"My team never ceases to surprise me," Barca coach Pep Guardiola told reporters.
"Espanyol had only conceded two goals at home. It's a great night for us because we were aware we were playing a great team. It's no coincidence that we have struggled here a lot in recent times."
The champions have 43 points from 16 games in La Liga going into the winter break and opened up a five-point gap over second-placed Real Madrid, who do not play until Sunday when Sevilla visit the Bernabeu.
Earlier, Villarreal broke clear in third with a 3-1 victory over Real Mallorca, climbing on to 33 points, five ahead of Espanyol in fourth.