MADRID, Oct 5. (Xinhua) -- FC Barcelona confirmed Sunday they are title contenders as they humiliated Atletico Madrid 6-1 in the Camp Nou Stadium in the Spanish Primera Liga. A magnificent first half saw the side coached by Pep Guardiola go 5-1 up by halftime in a match that was almost over as a contest by the ninth minute.
Rafael Marquez gave them the lead with a header from a corner after three minutes before Samuel Eto'o doubled their advantage from the penalty spot two minutes later.
Atletico were three down after nine minutes as Leo Messi scored from a quickly taken free kick as the visitors were organising a defensive wall. Atletico pulled one back before Eto'o made it 4-1 and Eidur Gudjohnsen scored a fifth.
Barcelona's players celebrates Lionel Messi's goal against Atletico de Madrid during their Spanish first division soccer match at Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona, October 4, 2008.
Thierry Henry scored a sixth goal for Barca in the second half.
Villarreal got the weekend off to a start by coming back from a goal down to beat Betis 2-1. Damia had given Betis a first half lead and the visitors missed several chances before two goals in two minutes from Gonzalo and Joseba Llorente turned the match around.
The win saw Villarreal spend Saturday night as league leaders. But Valencia's 1-0 win in Valladolid took them back to the top of the table on Sunday night.
Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates his goal against Atletico de Madrid during their Spanish first division soccer match at Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona, October 4, 2008
A tight game in the Nuevo Zorilla was decided by a long range shot from Manuel Fernandez just before the hour. Sevilla move up to third following am impressive 4-0 thrashing of Athletic Club Bilbao. Freddy Kanoute scored the first goal of the game after 25 minutes. Renato scored a second five minutes before the break, before Adriano and Chevanton completed the scoring in the second half.
That win lifts them above Real Madrid, who could only draw 2-2 at home to Espanyol. Espanyol went ahead in the first half twice thanks to a Raul Tamudo penalty and a Luis Garcia free kick.
However, Real Madrid captain Raul Gonzalez put his side back on level terms on both occasions. An exciting second half saw both teams create chances both there was no change to the score.
Sporting Gijon lifted themselves off the bottom of the table, thanks to a 2-0 away win in Mallorca. Manuel Preciado's side kept a clean sheet for the first time this season.
Racing Santander also claimed their first triumph with a late goal from Valera giving them the points away to Osasuna, who have yet to win this campaign.
There was a strange result in Getafe's Alfonso Perez Coliseum, where both the home team and Almeria scored two goals in two minutes. Getafe must have thought they had the points in the bag after Uche and Casquero scored in the 68th and 69th minutes. But just as the home fans were celebrating the three points, 87th and 88th minute goals from Negredo and Chica levelled the score.
Deportivo remain in placid waters thanks to a 1-0 win over Numancia with Lafita scoring after 13 minutes, while Malaga travelled to Huelva and returned home with all three points and a 4- 0 triumph in the Andalusia derby.