It was supposed to be a daunting test for Real Madrid, the La Liga champions had just been knocked out by Leganes in the Copa Del Rey in midweek, and their top four spot was under threat as they travelled to the Mestalla to take on Valencia.
Los Blancos were two up at halftime, though, two errors of judgement from Valencia defender Martin Montoya gave Cristiano Ronaldo two opportunities to score from 12 yards, which he took with aplomb.
Valencia would come roaring back in the second period, and 10 minutes after the break, Santi Mina headed home to send the home fans into cheers, and reduce the deficit.
Los Che were coming at Real hammer and thongs, and only a Keylor Navas save denied Dani Parejo an equaliser.
But the visitors made sure of the points six minutes from time, a driving run and finish from stand-in skipper Marcelo beat Valencia’s Neto at his near-post, before Toni Kroos put the icing on the cake three minutes after, and the win takes them to within two points of their opponents.
Another side needing a win were Inter Milan, the Nerazzurri hadn’t won since December, losing their top spot in Serie A and getting knocked out of the Coppa Italia in that time.
They travelled to SPAL this weekend, and took the lead three minutes after the break through an own goal from Federico Vicari, but a late equaliser from the hosts’ substitute Alberto Paloschi ensured their wait for a win would continue.
In Germany, Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich looked to be in trouble when they were two goals down at home to Hoffenheim inside 27 minutes, but Die Roten would make a remarkable comeback, scoring five times, one of which came from former Hoffenheim man Sandro Wagner, to maintain their gap at the top.
Elsewhere, Edinson Cavani struck his 157th Paris Saint-Germain goal, becoming the club’s all-time top scorer, as the Parisians hit Montpellier for four, Kelechi Iheanacho and Fousseini Diabate bagged doubles for Leicester City in their FA Cup Fourth Round win at Peterborough, while Lionel Messi popped up with a moment of brilliance as Barcelona saw off Alaves in a hard-fought game.
Napoli and Juventus continued their head-to-head tussle in Serie A, the former beating Bologna 3-1 to stay top, with the champions right behind them after winning at Chievo. Atletico Madrid scored a comfortable win past Las Palmas, Welsh minnows Newport held Tottenham to a draw in the FA Cup, while AC Milan got some much-needed respite by beating in-form Lazio, and Dortmund played a 2-2 draw at home to Freiburg.
La Liga: Valencia 1-4 Real Madrid; Deportivo 2-2 Levante; Villarreal 4-2 Real Sociedad; Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Eibar; Atletico Madrid 3-0 Las Palmas; Malaga 0-0 Girona; Leganes 3-2 Espanyol; Sevilla 1-1 Getafe; Barcelona 2-1 Alaves
Bundesliga: Bayern Munich 5-2 Hoffenheim; Leverkusen 2-0 Mainz; Hannover 0-1 Wolfsburg; Dortmund 2-2 Freiburg; Koln 1-1 Augsburg; Frankfurt 2-0 Borussia Monchengladbach; RB Leipzig 1-1 Hamburg; Stuttgart 0-2 Schalke; Werder Bremen 0-0 Hertha BSC
Ligue 1: PSG 4-0 Montpellier; Lille 2-1 Strasbourg; Toulouse 1-0 Troyes; Guingamp 0-3 Nantes; Dijon 2-1 Rennes; Metz 2-1 Nice; St. Etienne 2-1 Caen; Angers 1-0 Amiens; Bordeaux 3-1 Lyon; Marseille 2-2 Monaco
FA Cup: Peterborough 1-5 Leicester; Wigan 2-0 West Ham; Notts County 1-1 Swansea; Newport 1-1 Tottenham; Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle; Sheffield Wednesday 3-1 Reading; Sheffield United 1-0 Preston; Southampton 1-0 Watford; MK Dons 0-1 Coventry; Hull 2-1 Nottingham Forest; Middlesbrough 0-1 Brighton; Yeovil 0-4 Manchester United; Millwall 2-2 Rochdale; Liverpool 2-3 West Brom; Huddersfield 1-1 Birmingham; Cardiff 0-2 Manchester City
Serie A: SPAL 1-1 Inter; Fiorentina 1-4 Hellas Verona; Roma 0-1 Sampdoria; Genoa 0-1 Udinese; Chievo 0-2 Juventus; Milan 2-1 Lazio; Torino 3-0 Benevento; Crotone 1-1 Cagliari; Sassuolo 0-3 Atalanta; Napoli 3-1 Bologna