Barcelona needed a stoppage-time goal by Sergio Busquets on Sunday to secure a 1-0 win at Valencia on a day Spanish football was rocked by the death of a fan after a violent clash between rival supporters.
A 43-year-old fan of Deportivo La Coruna died of injuries sustained in a street fight that broke out between Deportivo and Atletico Madrid supporters hours before their match in Madrid.
Elsewhere in Europe, the defending champions in England and Italy both earned victories.
Manchester City moved into second place in England with a win over Southampton, while Andrea Pirlo also netted an injury-time winner for Juventus.
On Saturday, Cristiano Ronaldo set up two goals Saturday to help Real Madrid set a club record with its 16th straight victory across all competitions, while Premier League leader Chelsea stumbled to a scoreless draw at Sunderland in the Premier League.
While Chelsea faltered, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney scored to help Manchester United ease to a 3-0 win over Hull.
Also, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Arjen Robben found the net as Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich earned victories in France and Germany.
Here’s a look at the weekend’s games in the main European leagues:
Barcelona remained two points behind leader Real Madrid after Busquets blasted in a rebound in the final seconds of injury time at Mestalla Stadium.
Lionel Messi started Barcelona’s game-clinching move with a lobbed pass that Neymar header powerfully at goalkeeper Diego Alves, who did well to turn back the ball only for Busquets to drill it right back past him.
Messi appeared to be hit in the head by a water bottle thrown from the stands while his teammates piled on top of one another to celebrate the winning goal. The Argentine rubbed his head following the incident but was unhurt.
Third-place Atletico prevailed 2-0 over Deportivo in a game that finished shortly before Madrid’s Clinico San Carlos hospital announced that a man had died of injuries sustained after a fight erupted between rival groups early Sunday morning near its Vicente Calderon stadium. The man was identified only as a 43-year-old Deportivo fan.
Sevilla moved ahead of Valencia into fourth place after routing visitors Granada 5-1.
A day earlier, Ronaldo failed to score for the first time in 12 Spanish league matches this season, but made up for it with his two assists in a 2-1 win at Malaga.
Ronaldo set up fellow stars Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale as Madrid opened up a five-point lead over Barcelona before it visits Valencia on Sunday.
Benzema put Madrid in front in the 18th minute by redirecting Ronaldo’s cross after the Portugal star had used a step-over dribble to open up a passing angle from the wing.
Ronaldo then headed the ball forward in the 83rd for Bale to score what proved to be the winner with a dipping strike.
Roque Santa Cruz scored Malaga’s goal in stoppage time after Madrid’s Francisco “Isco” Alarcon was sent off with his second booking in the 86th.
Elsewhere, Athletic Bilbao midfielder Benat Etxebarria set up one goal before scoring to secure a 2-1 win at Getafe, while Espanyol fought back for a 2-1 win over visitors Levante under heavy rain for its first win in six games.
Chelsea dropped points for just the third time this season but remained unbeaten after being kept in check by a defensive-minded Sunderland in a 0-0 draw on Saturday.
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet praised his players for “defending for their lives,” and Chelsea counterpart Jose Mourinho had no complaints about the tactics employed by the hosts.
“To defend well and a lot isn’t a crime,” Mourinho said. “It’s part of the game. It’s strategy. My players tried everything.”
United’s victory ensured the Red Devils will complete a second successive weekend in the top four for the first time since Alex Ferguson retired as manager after winning the 2013 title.
United’s opener came from a surprise source, with defender Chris Smalling scoring his first goal in 11 months. Van Persie hit only his fourth goal of the season in the 66th after setting up Rooney’s fifth just before halftime.
Arsenal and Liverpool are out of the top four despite both posting 1-0 victories. Glen Johnson’s late header enabled 11th-placed Liverpool to overcome Stoke, while Danny Welbeck’s goal at West Bromwich Albion sent Arsenal up to sixth.
In Sunday’s action, City dislodged Southampton from second place with a 3-0 victory at the south-coast club in the Premier League, while Tottenham produced another comeback to beat Everton 2-1.
City was frustrated in the first half at St. Mary’s, but Yaya Toure, Frank Lampard and Gael Clichy eventually all found the net. The last two goals came with City down to 10 men following Eliaquim Mangala’s 74th-minute dismissal.
Tottenham is just two points from the Champions League places after beating Everton. Goals from Roberto Soldado and Christian Eriksen scored saw Tottenham come from behind to win 2-1 for the third time in four league games.
Andrea Pirlo scored deep into stoppage time as 10-man Juventus snatched a 2-1 win over Torino in a derby match on Sunday.
Roma also kept pace with the league leader with a 4-2 win over Inter Milan.
Bruno Peres’ goal had looked set to end the Bianconeri’s 24-match winning streak at Juventus Stadium in Turin, after he ran almost the entire length of the pitch before leveling with a delightful finish to cancel out Arturo Vidal’s penalty.
Gervinho, Jose Holebas and Miralem Pjanic (two) scored for Roma, which was twice pegged back with goals from Andrea Ranocchia and former striker Pablo Osvaldo.
Genoa moved into third place as it cruised to a 3-0 win at Cesena, while AC Milan earned a 2-0 victory at home to Udinese in a match which saw both teams reduced to 10 men.
On Saturday, Sassuolo extended its unbeaten run to seven matches by coming from behind to beat Hellas Verona 2-1 in Serie A.
Borussia Dortmund’s Bundesliga troubles worsened Saturday with a 2-0 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt that left the 2011 and 2012 champion in last place after 13 games.
Alexander Meier’s league-leading eighth goal of the season in the fourth minute and Haris Seferovic’s strike in the 78th were enough to hand Dortmund its eighth league loss.
While Dortmund slumped, Robin Knoche’s first-half strike was enough for Wolfsburg to beat Borussia Moenchengladbach 1-0, underlining the side’s credentials as the closest challenger to Bayern Munich.
Bundesliga leader Bayern grinded out a 1-0 win at Hertha Berlin on Saturday, while Klaas Jan Huntelaar’s hat trick helped Schalke earn a 4-1 victory over Mainz.
Bayern also had a Dutchman to thank, with Robben’s 27th-minute strike enough for the defending champions to go provisionally 10 points clear after 13 games.
Bayer Leverkusen routed Cologne 5-1 in the Rhine derby, Werder Bremen defeated Paderborn 4-0, and Augsburg came from behind to beat Hamburger SV 3-1 and climb provisionally fourth – its highest ever position. Hoffenheim also edged Hannover 4-3.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s penalty in the 15th was enough to give PSG a 1-0 win over Nice on Saturday and help it stay within one point of French league leader Marseille.
Elsewhere, Rennes climbed into fourth after beating Monaco 2-0, while Reims beat Bastia 2-1.
Lens won 2-0 against Metz to move out of the relegation zone, Caen drew 1-1 with Montpellier, and Lorient won 3-2 at Toulouse.
On Sunday, Saint-Etienne ended a run of five straight draws with a 3-0 win against third-place Lyon in the French league to move within one point of its local rival.
The win puts fifth-place Saint-Etienne one point behind Bordeaux and Lyon, which leads Bordeaux on goal difference.
Bordeaux beat Lille 1-0 thanks to Mali striker Cheick Diabate’s sixth goal of the season.
Evian earned a welcome win in its relegation fight by beating fellow struggler Guingamp 2-0.