Lionel Messi's 15th La Liga hat-trick lit up a nerve-jangling nine-goal thriller as Barcelona survived Javier Mascherano's red card to win 5-4 at Deportivo Coruna to go three points clear at the top.
Messi's latest masterclass overshadowed Real Madrid's drab 2-0 triumph at home to promoted Celta Vigo. Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo (penalty) scored the goals that lifted Jose Mourinho's team to fourth place, eight points behind arch rivals Barca.
Messi, who is expecting the imminent birth of his first child, has notched 71 goals for club and country in 2012. That leaves him only four short of the record set by Pele in 1959.
The Argentine has 11 goals in eight La Liga outings this season, two more than Ronaldo. Unbeaten Barca have 22 points, three ahead of Atletico Madrid, who play their game in hand at Real Sociedad; Malaga are third.
Ba's own goal rescues Sunderland
Sunderland: Sunderland rescued a 1-1 draw against 10-man Newcastle on Sunday as Demba Ba's late own goal cost his team a victory over their bitter rivals in the Tyne-Wear derby.
Newcastle, who had taken the lead through Yohan Cabaye's early strike, were hanging on for three points at the Stadium of Light until Senegal striker Ba diverted John O'Shea's header into his own net with just four minutes remaining.
On Saturday, Norwich stunned Arsenal as Grant Holt punished a mistake from Vito Mannone to seal a shock 1-0 victory.
With Arsenal's first choice stopper Wojciech Szczesny a long term injury victim, and Lukasz Fabianski damaging ligaments in training during the week, Arsene Wenger once again turned to Mannone, but the Italian's poor handling was decisive as Holt netted from the rebound.
Wenger's side are now 10 points behind leaders Chelsea, while Norwich climb out of the relegation zone thanks to their first win over Arsenal for 20 years.