Gareth Bale became the leading British goalscorer in La Liga history as Real Madrid closed the gap on Barcelona with a 4-0 win over Sevilla in a match also saw Cristiano Ronaldo miss from the penalty spot for the third time this season.
Karim Benzema marked his return to the side with a fine goal to open the scoring and Real should really have been out of sight by half-time, but found Sevilla stopper Sergio Rico in fine form.
However, the visitors were handed the perfect opportunity to equalise against the run of play, but Kevin Gameiro saw his penalty brilliantly saved by Keylor Navas.
Ronaldo missed from the spot just after the break, blazing well over the top, but he did get on scoresheet on 64 minutes, before the recording-breaking goal from Bale, which saw him overtake Gary Lineker in the rankings, and a late Jese Rodriguez strike made sure of the convincing win.
With El Clasico up next, Real remain 10 points behind Barca, but with their front three of Benzema, Bale and Ronaldo fit and healthy for the first time in months, Madrid will be waiting in anticipation for any slip-ups in Catalonia.
With only 8 games left catching Barca might be beyond Zinedine Zidane’s side, but city rivals Atletico are only one point ahead of the Whites, and finishing second would look a lot better than third.
Sevilla made a better start and had two attempts on goal within five minutes but Madrid made their first effort count. Bale dribbled down the right and spotted Benzema lurking near the penalty spot, and the Frenchman swivelled to meet his team-mate’s cross on the half volley, sending it high into the net.
Once Madrid went ahead they were in the mood for more. Bale’s shot was turned onto the post by Sergio Rico, and a minute later the Wales international flicked a Ronaldo header into the net from close range, but had the goal wrongly ruled out for offside, as Sevilla defender Timothee Kolodziejczak, who was kneeling on the floor, was playing him onside.
Rico then made two more brilliant saves, first denying Benzema and then Ronaldo, and a moment later Sevilla were offered a golden opportunity to get back into the game, as the referee punished Raphael Varane for tugging the shirt of Adil Rami while trying to defend a set piece.
But Navas came to Madrid’s rescue, guessing correctly and parrying Gameiro’s spot kick, making his third penalty save of the campaign.
Ronaldo was given the chance to get on the scoresheet from the spot in the second half when Jose Antonio Reyes was penalised for tripping Luka Modric in the area, but the Portuguese blasted over the bar.
Bale then headed onto the bar from a corner but just a minute later Sevilla looked to have punished Madrid for their wastefulness when Gameiro latched onto a long ball and shot past Navas, but the Frenchman was harshly judged offside.
Ronaldo finally got the goal he craved to calm Madrid’s nerves, arriving at the far post to knock in a low pass from Danilo, and the Portuguese puts his hands together in a gesture of apology to the fans.
Bale then grabbed the history-making goal he had been denied earlier by the woodwork and the linesman, turning in Benzema’s chipped pass from inside the six-yard area.
And Jese completed the scoring as injury time approached, finishing off a one-two with fellow substitute James Rodriguez as Real made a real statement of intent.