Madrid: Portuguese goal machine Cristiano Ronaldo equalled the all-time league record of 38 goals with a brace in Real Madrid's 3-1 victory at Villarreal on Sunday.
Ronaldo made it nine goals in his last three games with a 22nd minute free-kick and a last minute strike to stay on course to pick up the Pichichi trophy for the league's top-scorer.
Barcelona's Lionel Messi, his nearest rival, has 31 La Liga goals.
Ronaldo's 38-goal tally equals the all-time best record set by Athletic Bilbao's Telmo Zarra in 1951 and matched by Real's iconic Mexican striker Hugo Sanchez in 1990.
And he has the final game of the season to set a new record.
Newly-crowned champions Barcelona had their eye on the Champions League final against Manchester United on May 28 as they rested stars in a dull 0-0 draw against Deportivo La Coruna at Camp Nou.
The visitors performed the traditional guard of honour to salute the league champions, who secured the title on Wednesday with a 1-1 draw against Levante, although most of the Barcelona stars were on the bench.
Deportivo were fighting relegation and undoubtedly happy to see Messi and company watching from the sidelines and they claimed a valuable point in their bid to beat the drop.
Deportivo, league champions in 2000, are one point above the bottom three heading into the final game next weekend.
Elsewhere Valencia clinched third place for the second successive season with a 0-0 draw against derby rivals Levante.
Valencia earn direct qualification for the Champions League, while fourth-placed Villarreal must negotiate a two-legged qualifier.
The battle for the two Europa League places will go to the final match of the season with Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla all locked on 55 points.
Bilbao had been in the box seat in fifth with a two point advantage over their rivals but a 1-1 draw against 10-man Malaga surrendered their cushion.
Atletico defeated already-relegated Hercules 2-1 at home as manager Quique Sanchez Flores said goodbye to the Atletico fans in his final game at the Vicente Calderon.
Flores, who led the club to Europa League glory last season, confirmed he was leaving the club in the build-up and signed off with three points although Atletico are behind Sevilla and Bilbao on the head to head record.
Sevilla climbed above Bilbao into fifth with a 3-1 win over Real Sociedad thanks to a brace from veteran Mali forward Frederic Kanoute.
At the bottom of the table the tense relegation battle is set to go the wire with seven teams still fighting for survival.
With Almeria and Hercules already relegated, there is just one place left and Real Zaragoza are currently third from bottom despite a 1-0 win over Espanyol.
Zaragoza are one point behind Deportivo and Getafe with Real Sociedad, Real Mallorca and Osasuna all two points ahead of Zaragoza.
Levante are three points above the drop zone but could still go down on the head to head ruling if they lose to Zaragoza when the two teams meet on the final day of the season.
First Published: Monday, May 16, 2011, 08:30