Real Madrid earned a therapeutic 2-0 victory at home to Sevilla with late strikes from Casemiro and Luka Modric as Santiago Solari's stuttering side leapfrogged the Andalusians into third spot in La Liga on Saturday.
Brazilian midfielder Casemiro unleashed a stinging shot from outside the area which was too powerful for outstretched keeper Tomas Vaclik, giving the European champions a deserved lead in the 78th minute after they dominated the second half.
Teenage forward Vinicius Jr was again Madrid's most dangerous outlet and had come close to breaking the deadlock with a scooping shot that just crept wide of the post before Casemiro finally broke the deadlock.
Dani Ceballos, the match-winner in last week's scrappy 2-1 victory at Real Betis, had also earlier hammered the bar as Madrid took the game by the scruff of the neck at a rainy and cold Santiago Bernabeu after a drab first half of few chances.
Modric finally sealed the victory in stoppage time with a cool finish, giving Solari's team a second straight win after their poor start to 2019, having drawn at Villarreal and lost at home to Real Sociedad.
The victory saw Madrid climb to third place on 36 points, three ahead of Sevilla who have failed to win in their last four league outings, while Barcelona, who host Leganes on Sunday, are top with 43.
"We needed a game like this. It was a magnificent performance, we dominated every phase of the match," said Real captain Sergio Ramos.
"We scored the chances we needed to, we could have scored more but we're very happy. We really wanted to win emphatically in front of our own fans. We put them (Sevilla) under pressure from the first minute and we got our rewards. This was a vital win for us."
Solari again left out experienced left back Marcelo, in favour of youngster Sergio Reguilon, and Spain midfielder Isco but was boosted by the return of Lucas Vazquez from suspension and Karim Benzema, who wore a bandage on a fractured finger.
Benzema teed up Vinicius early in the game but the Brazilian fired straight at Vaclik.
Sevilla, who have lost momentum in the new year after making an impressive start to the season, had only one chance of note in the whole game, which left back Sergio Escudero put just wide of the near post.
Sevilla midfielder Pablo Sarabia criticised his side for not showing more ambition.
"We are not feeling good, the team is feeling very down because we tried to defend but we needed to offer more in the second half, we could barely get beyond their half," he said.
His team mate Ever Banega was even more critical, saying: "In the second half we were a disaster."
Inter draw a blank as Sassuolo curse continues
Inter Milan’s poor run against Sassuolo continued on Saturday as they were held to a 0-0 home draw in Serie A in front of a crowd of school children.
The visitors went into the game with a remarkable record against Inter, having won seven of their last eight meetings, and again frustrated Luciano Spalletti’s side in an unusual atmosphere at San Siro.
Inter were forced to play behind closed doors for a second consecutive game as punishment for the racist abuse aimed at Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly by some fans during a fixture on Boxing Day, but Serie A allowed around 11,000 local school children to attend the game.
Additionally, both teams wore “BUU” badges on their sleeves as part of Inter’s new anti-racism campaign, which aims to transform what is regarded as a racist noise in Italy into an acronym for “Brothers Universally United”.
Sassuolo started stronger, with Manuel Locatelli shooting wide from distance and Kevin-Prince Boateng forcing a save from Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.
Yet the hosts grew into the game and created the best chance of the first half when former Sassuolo winger Matteo Politano’s close-range finish was tipped over by Andrea Consigli.
Boateng again called Handanovic into action with a powerful header 10 minutes after the break and the away team almost snatched a win at the death when Jeremie Boga’s shot was saved before Mehdi Bourabia had his follow-up effort blocked.
Inter remain in third place on 40 points, four behind Napoli, while Sassuolo stay in 12th with 26 points.
Earlier on Saturday, Roma ended Torino’s 12-match unbeaten away run with a thrilling 3-2 victory at the Stadio Olimpico, before a superb individual goal by Gervinho earned Parma a 2-1 win away at Udinese.
Goals galore as PSG enjoy Guingamp revenge win
Runaway Ligue 1 leaders Paris St Germain avenged their League Cup loss to Guingamp by demolishing the Brittany side 9-0 at home with an almost perfect performance on Saturday.
The capital side prevailed through trebles by Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe, a Neymar double and a Thomas Meunier goal.
The one sour note for PSG, however, was an injury to Marco Verratti, who left the pitch after 13 minutes when a Guingamp player stepped on his ankle.
"I think it is serious," said PSG coach Thomas Tuchel about the Italy international's injury.
"He could be out for a few weeks."
PSG travel to Manchester United for their Champions League last-16, first leg on Feb. 12.
There was another injury scare a few minutes later when Neymar stepped off the field holding his thigh, but the Brazilian came back on and finished the match, helping PSG stretch their Ligue 1 lead to 13 points with two games in hand.
They have 53 points from 19 games with second-placed Lille on 40 points from 21.
Things went from bad to worse for Monaco, who slumped to a 5-1 home defeat to RC Strasbourg after being reduced to 10 men following a red card for Naldo in the seventh minute.
Ludovic Ajorque netted a double with Adrien Thomasson, Ibrahima Sissoko and Youssouf Fofana also scoring. Monaco only had Radamel Falcao's 22nd-minute goal to show for their efforts.
Thierry Henry's side, who have not won at home in the league this season, are second from bottom on 15 points.
Nine days after being knocked out of the League Cup quarter-finals with a 2-1 defeat by Guingamp at the Parc des Princes, PSG were on fire and came close to claiming the largest home win in the French top flight.
The record was set in the 1935-36 season when Sochaux beat Valenciennes 12-1.
Neymar opened the scoring in the 12th minute after collecting a superb through ball from Dani Alves, beating Marc-Aurele Caillard from close range.
Mbappe made it 2-0 eight minutes before the break with a cool finish after a one-two with Neymar.
The France striker doubled his tally on the stroke of halftime after Cavani dispossessed Felix Eboa Eboa in the box.
The Uruguay striker made it 4-0 in the 59th minute when he tapped in from Juan Bernat's cross.
He added another eight minutes later from Angel Di Maria's cross, and only two minutes later, Neymar, perfectly set up by Mbappe, found the back of the net again.
Guingamp's ordeal was far from being over, though.
Cavani beat Caillard when he tapped in from Layvin Kurzawa's cross in the 76th, five minutes before Mbappe also grabbed his hat-trick after collecting his Uruguayan team mate's through ball.
Defender Meunier rounded off the humiliation with a shot from inside the box.
Mbappe, Neymar and Cavani have now netted a total of 44 goals in Ligue 1 with the Frenchman leading the scoring charts with 17 goals.