MADRID: Barcelona equalled the record for the most points after 10 games in La Liga and pulled three clear of Atletico Madrid at the top of the table by beating promoted Celta Vigo 3-1 on Saturday.
David Villa netted and created a goal for Jordi Alba after Adriano had opened the scoring at the Nou Camp as Tito Vilanova’s unbeaten side moved on to 28 points, matching the previous best set by arch rivals Real Madrid.
Champions Real, whose title defence got off to a shaky start, climbed above Malaga into third when Argentina team mates Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria and new signings Michael Essien and Luka Modric struck in a 4-0 home win over Real Zaragoza.
Real, who looked far from their best against 10th-placed Zaragoza despite the scoreline, are eight points behind Barca on 20, with Malaga left on 18 after they suffered their first home defeat of the campaign in a 2-1 reverse against Rayo Vallecano.
Atletico can join the Catalan club on 28 points with a win at Valencia later on Saturday (2100 GMT).
Celta’s only previous victory at Barca came in the 1941-42 season but the Galicians surprised their illustrious hosts with some neat play and Mario Bermejo levelled at 1-1 three minutes after Adriano’s 21st-minute opener.
Forward Villa, who looks to be getting back to his best after a lengthy recuperation from a broken leg, put Barca back in front two minutes after Bermejo’s strike.
He sent Andres Iniesta clear with a deft back heel and raced into the area to sidefoot his Spain’s team mate’s low cross into the net for his fifth league goal of the season.
The 30-year-old then produced another delightful touch to put Alba through in the 61st minute and the referee allowed the fullback's well-taken goal to stand despite the fact he was clearly offside when Villa made the pass.
Barcelona’s World Player of the Year Lionel Messi, who became a father for the first time when his son Thiago was born on Friday, had a quiet night, the La Liga top scorer failing to add to his 13 league goals this term.
The win means that Villanova, who stepped up from assistant coach to succeed Pep Guardiola at the end of last season, has made a better start to the La Liga season than any of his predecessors.
Dutchman Louis van Gaal held the previous record after his side won eight of their opening 10 matches in the 1997-98 campaign, when Barca went on to win the title.
“The points that we have are more important than the record,” Vilanova told a news conference. “More than a record it’s a sign of the desire this team has.”
At Malaga’s Rosaleda stadium, Rayo forward Piti netted twice for the visitors either side of a Martin Demichelis header as Malaga slipped up ahead of their Champions League Group C game at AC Milan on Tuesday.
“We hope it was just one match,” coach Manuel Pellegrini told a news conference.
“They are three home points that are more important than the ones we'll be playing for on Tuesday,” added the Chilean, whose side tops Group C on nine points ahead of Milan on four and are within touching distance of a place in the knockout round.
“Every year you lose a game like that and we hope that we can make up for it away from home.”