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Neymar sparks Barcelona as Cristiano Ronaldo rescues Real Madrid

updated 6:16 PM EDT, Sat October 5, 2013
Neymar scores Barcelona's final goal in Saturday's 4-0 victory against Real Valladolid at Camp Nou.
Neymar scores Barcelona's final goal in Saturday's 4-0 victory against Real Valladolid at Camp Nou.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Neymar inspires Barcelona to eighth win from eight matches in Spanish league
  • Brazilian scores one and sets up one in Saturday's 4-1 win at Valladolid
  • Third-placed Real Madrid stays six points adrift after snatching a late victory
  • Bayern Munich top in Bundesliga despite dropping first points of season

(CNN) -- With Lionel Messi on the sidelines, Neymar took center stage in the battle with Cristiano Ronaldo for the crown of La Liga's most influential player on Saturday.

Ronaldo's injury-time heroics prevented Real Madrid from falling eight points behind in the title race ahead of the international break, as the Portugal forward scored a last-gasp winner against Levante.

Barcelona had no such problems, despite also going behind at home to Valladolid, with Gerardo Martino's team running out a 4-1 victor for eight wins out of eight.

Alexis Sanchez scored two of those goals, but it was his fellow South American Neymar who ran the show -- scoring the last himself, setting up one for the Chilean and providing the spark for Xavi's strike that made it 2-1.

With Messi recovering from a second injury this season, Neymar has been given an increasing amount of responsibility following his $75 million move from Santos and is showing he can fit into the role of team player as well as solo star.

However, it was Sanchez who responded to Javi Guerra's 10th-minute opener, firing in a superb equalizer from outside the penalty area.

Neymar's burst helped Cristian Tello to set up midfield veteran Xavi for his second goal this season, then the Brazilian slid a perfect pass for Sanchez to slot home in the 64th minute.

The roles were reversed on 70 as Sanchez squared the ball to Neymar, who turned and fired in a low shot for his second league goal since arriving.

Ronaldo took his La Liga tally to seven, one behind Messi and Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa, as he blasted the decisive goal in Real's 3-2 win at Levante.

Real twice came from behind to deny the home side, which led through Baba Diawara in the 57th minute and then Nabil El Zhar with four to play in regulation.

Captain Sergio Ramos leveled the first time, stabbing in at the far post from a corner, and 20-year-old substitute Alvaro Morata made it 2-2 before Ronaldo's deflected shot went in off the post in the fourth added minute.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti had made several changes following the midweek Champions League win over Copenhagen, in which Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria both scored twice, and the Italian was again without injured marquee signing Gareth Bale.

Real went two points above fourth-placed Villarreal, which beat Granada 3-0 on Friday.

Second-placed Atletico will seek to keep a perfect record in Sunday's home clash with Celta Vigo.

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Meanwhile, Bayern Munich claimed top spot in Germany for the first time this season despite dropping points for the first time in a 1-1 draw at third-placed Bayer Leverkusen.

The European and Bundesliga champion will end the weekend with a one-point advantage over Leverkusen and previous leader Borussia Dortmund -- which crashed 2-0 at Borussia Monchengladbach.

Bayern's last league loss was 33 games ago at Leverkusen, and Pep Guardiola's team seemed on track for a seventh win from eight this season after Toni Kroos scored on the half hour.

However, Sidney Sam leveled immediately and goalkeeper Bernd Leno kept out a barrage of attempts by the Bavarians.

Dortmund crumbled after Germany defender Mats Hummels was sent off in the 81st minute for hauling down Norway midfielder Havard Nordtveit -- Max Kruse converted the resulting penalty and Brazilian strike partner Raffael doubled the lead.

Gladbach moved up to fourth on goal difference above Hannover, held 1-1 by Hertha Berlin on Friday.

Seventh-placed Stuttgart and Werder Bremen drew 1-1 to be on 11 points along with Schalke, which beat Augsburg 4-1.

Roma moved five points clear at the top in Italy after crushing fourth-placed Inter Milan 3-0, despite having a player sent off at the San Siro.

The capital club made it seven wins from seven as veteran Francesco Totti scored a double and Alessandro Florenzi also found the net before halftime.

Totti smashed in from Gervinho's layoff then converted a disputed penalty after the Ivory Coast international was brought down in the box.

Florenzi was set up by Kevin Strootman just before the break, and Roma could afford to lose defender Federico Balzaretti at the end for a second yellow card as the home side suffered a first defeat under former Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri.

Atalanta earlier moved up to eighth place with a 1-0 win at struggling Chievo.

In France, Monaco went three points clear of Paris Saint-Germain following Saturday's 2-1 win at home to Saint-Etienne, with substitute Lucas Ocampos scoring an 87th-minute decider.

Ligue 1 champion PSG visits third-placed Marseille on Sunday.

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