Madrid: Real Madrid kept on the trail of Barcelona on Saturday with a Kaka brace from the penalty spot helping them to a 3-0 win over Athletic Bilbao.
With Barcelona having opened up an eight-point lead at the top of the table, Real's main objective is now the Champions League where they have a 4-1 advantage over Tottenham going into the quarter-final second leg.
Coach Jose Mourinho decided to rest a number of his players ahead of that game with Cristiano Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso and Mesut Ozil all missing from the starting line-up.
Athletic, chasing a Europa League place, started the stronger with plenty of possession but they always looked exposed at the back.
Real took the lead when Angel Di Maria was upended by keeper Gorka Iraizoz as he raced clear and Kaka converted the spot-kick.
Athletic continued to press forward but Real looked solid defensively and after the break went further ahead when defender Xavier Castillo blocked Di Maria and Kaka again kept his composure to beat the keeper from the penalty.
Subsitute Ronaldo wrapped up the win with a piece of quality where he came inside his marker and slotted home.
Athletic remain on 45 points, level with Sevilla who play away at Mallorca later.
In a thrilling end to the season Real and Barcelona could meet in four clasicos which could make or break their seasons.
They clash next weekend in the league and in the final of the Copa del Rey at the end of the month, while they are also due to clash in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Later Barcelona take on Almeria and coach Pep Guardiola says the team must not be distracted by the upcoming game at the Bernabeu.
They have shown weaknesses at the back with Carles Puyol and Eric Abidal missing but the quality of their attack and in particular Leo Messi has carried them through matches.
The fight for third place is between Valencia and Villarreal who are well clear of the sides below them and they now go head-to head on Sunday.
Espanyol have had a dismal run since Christmas and take on Hercules still in the fight for a European place mainly because the teams around them have done little better.
Atletico, one point behind, face Real Sociedad with just three wins from their last eleven matches and coach Quique Sanchez Flores has said he will leave at the end of the season.
Malaga continue their survival bid against Deportivo la Coruña who have been drawn into the relegation dogfight.
Zaragoza, a point above the bottom three, play Getafe who are also in danger of the drop. Levante moved into mid-table with a win over Malaga last weekend and they now play Racing Santander while Sporting Gijon meet Osasuna.