(CNN) -- La Liga leaders Barcelona returned to winning ways with a 3-0 home victory over Racing Santander on Saturday, extending their advantage over second-placed rivals Real Madrid to seven points.
After an impressive unbeaten run in all competitions, Barcelona suffered their first defeat in 28 games midweek, losing 3-1 to Spanish second division side Real Betis in the second leg of their Copa del Rey clash, but going through 6-3 on aggregate.
But it had been 28 years since Racing Santander had won a league game at the Camp Nou and having also lost seven of their last 10 away league matches, never looked likely to get the better of the reigning Spanish champions.
Pep Guardiola's team was missing Brazil right back Daniel Alves as well as Jeffren Suarez of Spain -- who has been sidelined for five weeks with muscle tear in his left thigh -- but the absence of the two players did not hamper the Catalan giants.
Spain forward Pedro put Barca ahead after just three minutes after a cross from international teammate David Villa.
Argentina forward Lionel Messi made it 2-0 after 30 minutes easily putting a penalty past Racing goalkeeper Toño, awarded for a foul by Henrique on Villa.
It was the brilliant Messi's 19th league goal of the season.
Ten minutes after play resumed following half-time, Andres Iniesta got his name on the scorecard with Messi, Villa and Pedro combining to get the ball to the Spain midfielder, who duly made it 3-0.
Barca's emphatic victory was reminiscent of their 3-0 away win over Racing in the opening game of the 2010/11 season.
Unable to exact revenge, the Cantabrians are left just four points above the relegation zone.
Real Madrid will be hoping to close the gap on Barcelona when they host Real Mallorca on Sunday.
Elsewhere in La Liga, Valencia moved above Villarreal into third with a last minute winner from Aritz Aduriz clinching a thrilling 4-3 win over nine-man Malaga.
Malaga had Argentine defender Martin Demichelis sent off on 16 minutes for conceding a penalty, which Juan Mata converted, and central defender Helder Rosario red-carded in the 65th minute for dissent.
Former Real Madrid star Julio Baptista, signed from Roma in the January transfer window, drew Malaga level at 3-3 with his first goal for the club on 79 minutes, but Aduriz struck in stoppage time to secure a vital three points.
Sevilla moved to joint seventh place thanks to a 4-1 win over Levante.
Brazil forward Louis Fabiano scored a hat-trick for the southern Spanish side, with French midfielder Julien Escude also finding the back of the net.
Spaniard Xisco Munoz scored a consolation goal for Levante, but the Valencia-based team are now second from bottom of the table.