MADRID (AFP) - Real Madrid's deadly strikeforce of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain engineered a 2-0 win at Racing Santander on Sunday to put their side back on top of La Liga and push Barcelona into second place.
Ronaldo won and converted a penalty for his 18th league goal in just 21 games before Argentine Higuain netted for the fifth consecutive game to make it 24 goals for the season.
The duo have scored 42 out of Real's 83 goals this campaign and Madrid have now notched 12 consecutive league wins to move above Barcelona on goal difference.
Champions Barcelona also have 77 points after their 4-1 win over Athletic Bilbao on Saturday to set up the mouthwatering 'El Clasico' clash in Madrid next Saturday between the two great rivals.
"I don't think there is a favourite for the match as both teams are on form and winning a lot of games," said Real coach Manuel Pellegrini.
"In these matches the team that makes the fewest mistakes wins. We need to recover the points we lost at Camp Nou (where they lost 1-0) and I am sure we can win."
Real are able to rest up for that duel while Barcelona have a tough Champions League quarter-final second leg at home to Arsenal on Tuesday before the trip to the capital four days later.
German defender Christoph Metzelder made just his second Real appearance of the season with Sergio Ramos suspended and Pepe out for the season.
Racing fielded 19-year-old starlet Sergio Canales who has already reached a deal to join Real in the summer for a reported 4.5 million euros.
The first opening fell to Canales on the quarter hour mark. Iker Casillas's clearance went straight to the teenager but with an open goal he lobbed his shot wide.
Real were looking dangerous and Ronaldo won a penalty on 23 minutes with several step-overs confusing defender Jose Moraton who clipped the Portuguese star and the winger went down easily to win the spot-kick.
Ronaldo converted the penalty with a fierce drive to the left for his 18th goal of the season.
Racing had failed to score in their last four outings against Madrid and have the worst home record in the league so the omens didn't look good for the hosts.
After the break Racing improved but struggled to create clear-cut chances while Real went off the boil and Guti was introduced on the hour mark.
It was a poor second half from Real but Alvaro Arbeloa produced a sublime pass to Higuain on 76 minutes and the Argentine raced through to cooly slot home.
Elsewhere, Spanish international striker David Villa took his season's league tally to 20 with a late brace as Valencia defeated Osasuna 3-0 to reinforce their bid for a Champions League place.
Joaquin netted the opener before Villa scored two late goals scoring on 89 minutes and then converted a penalty three minutes into stoppage time.
With fifth-placed Real Mallorca falling eight points behind after a 1-1 draw at Almeria, Valencia, in third, now look odds-on to net one of the four Champions League spots.
Valencia will travel to Atletico Madrid on Thursday for the second leg of the all-Spanish Europa League quarter-final with the tie evenly balanced at 2-2.
Atletico beat Deportivo La Coruna 3-0 at home on Sunday to move five points off the top six.
Defender Juanito's first goal of the season put Atletico in front before Diego Forlan scored his 16th of the campaign and Tiago added a third.
Real Mallorca's away form continues to undermine their Champions League hopes as the islanders drew 1-1 at Almeria as they missed the chance to go back above Sevilla into fourth.
Mallorca have won 12 out of 14 games at home but on the road they have won just twice and lie level on points with Sevilla, 3-0 winners over Tenerife on Saturday.
In other matches, Villarreal moved two points behind sixth-placed Athletic Bilbao with a 2-0 win at Valladolid.
|Coach: Miguel Portugal|
for M. Tchité 67'
for Munitis 67'
for Arana 81'
|Gerrard should remain captain, says Beckham|
|Cafu throws support behind Scolari|
|Sabella warns Argentina|
|MLS Review: Henry, Defoe star, as late goals rain down|
|Klinsmann: Germany are favourites|
|Robben rejects Van Gaal´s United proposal|
|Blind hopes Dutch youngsters stick together|
|Thiago Silva frustrated by failure|
|Adrian leaves Atletico for Porto|
|Van Gaal proud after Dutch win|
|Scolari leaving future up to CBF|
|Mixed emotions for Robben|
|FIFA World Cup: Brazil 0 Netherlands 3|
|Sabella remains unsure of Di Maria fitness|
|Abdennour pleased with friendly workout|
|Halilhodzic to take charge at Trabzonspor|
|Fenerbahce delighted to finally sign Diego|
|Low and Germany ready for finale|
|Lyon agree Rose deal|
|Neymar´s World Cup delights Bartomeu|
|De Laurentiis: Higuain going nowhere|
|Beckham lauds ´amazing´ Messi|
|PSG beat Videoton in seven-goal thriller|
|Horta makes Malaga switch|
|Southampton seal deal for Pelle|
|Barcelona ´convinced´ of reduction in Suarez ban|
|West Ham held by League Two Stevenage|
|Bianchi makes move to England|
|West Ham must be more clinical, says Allardyce|
|Germany experience will count - Lehmann|
|Berahino and Dorrans strike in Albion win|
|Ince settling quickly at Hull|
|Swansea in talks with Napoli over Michu|
|Dodo eyes Champions League with Inter|
|FIFA World Cup Preview: Germany v Argentina|
|Huddlestone out to hit the ground running|
|Pogba not bound for Chelsea - agent|
|Barry feeling fresh with Everton|
|Arteta plays down transfer talk|
|PSV complete De Jong deal|
|Colback excited for busy pre-season|
|Milan and Orlando in talks over Robinho|
|West Brom bring in Pocognoli|
|Maradona: Messi will define World Cup final|
|Rami seals Milan move|
|Kuyt eager to secure third place|
|Rodriguez talks up Real Madrid move|
|Bebe welcomes Benfica link|
|Koeman admits unsettled Lovren could leave|
|FIFA World Cup Final Preview: Argentina face old foes Germany with Brazil´s party in tatters|
|FIFA World Cup Final Preview: Messi aims to cement legacy|
|FIFA World Cup Final Preview: Sabella on the brink of greatness|
|FIFA World Cup Final Preview: Muller seeks to augment outstanding finals record|
|FIFA World Cup Final Preview: Low´s hard work pays off|
|FIFA World Cup Final Preview: The coaches to have tasted glory|
|FIFA World Cup Final Preview: The five most iconic finals|
|FIFA World Cup Final Preview: The five most iconic finals|
|FIFA World Cup Final Preview: Germany´s route to the final|
|FIFA World Cup Final Preview: Brazil 2014 produces moments to remember|
|SJ Earthquakes 1 DC United 2: Johnson, Silva score as Eastern Conference leaders extend advantage|
|Otamendi unfazed by price tag|
|Sam targeting top three with Schalke|
|Rodriguez out for revenge|
|Bruno Alves could leave Fenerbahce|
|Thiago Silva endured sleepless nights|
|Final on enemy soil ´special´, says Zabaleta|
|Arteta: Sanchez signing highlights Arsenal´s ambition|
|Mertesacker demands repeat performance|
|Scolari gets federation backing|
|Balotelli poses with shotgun|
|Lizarazu lauds Argentina´s craftiness|
|New deals for Moore, Schlupp|
|Litex Lovech 3 Veris 0 (3-0 agg): Bulgarians through to second round|
|Valencia loan Fede to Cordoba|
|Stoke closing in on Bojan|
|Inter still hopeful of Jovetic capture|
|Finalists dominate Golden Ball nominees|
|Celtic end Austria tour unbeaten|
|Rizzoli appointed World Cup final referee|
|Oier joins Granada|
|Escriba extends Elche agreement|
|Newcastle have agreement for Cabella, says Nicollin|
|Scolari: We have to move on|
|Roma complete Emanuelson deal|
|Alex pledges to improve Milan|
|Di Maria doing everything he can, says agent|
|Villa give Richardson a Premier League return|
|Sabella ´to step down´ after World Cup final|
|Van Gaal eyes ´unbeaten´ campaign|
|Suarez to take case to CAS|
|Germany have same spirit as in 1990, says Beckenbauer|
|´Quite clear Suarez wanted to leave´ - Liverpool fanzine|
|Southampton closing in on Pelle deal - Koeman|
|Suarez, Ronaldo, Bale and more: The Premier League talent drain|
|Augsburg capture Caiuby|
|Gerrard lauds departing Suarez|
|Andrade delighted at Benfica return|
|No Bony talks with Liverpool - Swansea|
|Lahm: Experience will be key|
|FIFA World Cup Preview: Brazil v Netherlands|
|Suarez departs Liverpool with ´heavy heart´|
|Liverpool did everything to keep Suarez - Rodgers|
|Suarez to sign for Barca|
|Boyce: Referees not told to be lenient|
|Sanchez reveals Wenger admiration|
|Flick staying secretive on Messi plans|
|Determined Dyche aims to complete more deals|
|Matri joins Genoa on loan|
|Valderrama talks up James potential|
|Aguero: Argentina are World Cup underdogs|
|Everton in talks over Traore return|
|Lambert tipped to prise open defences|
|Thauvin hails Bielsa impact at Marseille|
|Zico: Time for Scolari to go|
|Klopp eager for defensive improvement|
|Arsenal to run the rule over Fathi|
|Chamakh signs news Palace deal|
|Neville set to learn United fate|
|Fiorentina swoop for Brillante|
|Navas set to join Bayern|
|Neymar rejects agent´s anti-Scolari Twitter tirade|
|Allegri undecided on Italy job|
|Fernando idolises City team-mate Toure|
|Arteta: FA Cup will inspire Arsenal´s Premier League tilt|
|Evergrande confirm Gilardino signing|
|Howedes calls for team effort to stop Messi|
|Kuyt: Van Gaal can succeed at United|
|Argentina fined for player no-show|
|Neymar: ´I could be in a wheelchair´|
|Mascherano: I tackled doubts to block Robben|
|Zaccheroni: I leave Japan in a good spot|
|Aguero: Argentina ready to give everything|
|UEFA Europa League Review: Gothenburg leave it late, Sillamae stun Honka|