MADRID (AFP) — Barcelona reeled off their seventh successive win to reach the summit of the Spanish first division but Saturday's 4-1 win at Malaga was marred by racism directed at their Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o.
African forward Eto'o was subjected to monkey charts by the home fans at the La Rosaleda before being booed when he was substituted late on as racism reared its ugly head once again.
Eto'o, 27, has become a major figure in football's bid to kick racism out of the game after being on the receiving end of racist remarks in the past.
In February 2006, Eto'o had wanted to leave the pitch in a 2-0 victory against Real Zaragoza after being forced to listen to monkey cries and dodge peanuts thrown at him. Then coach Frank Rijkaard persuaded him to go on and Zaragoza were fined 9,000 euros.
The Eto'o incidents come just after a Spanish website targeted McLaren Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton with racist abuse.
Eto'o was not on the scoresheet in Barca's 4-1 win with Spain's Euro 2008 hero Xavi Hernandez and a sixth goal of the season from Argentine Lionel Messi sealing the points on a rain-soaked pitch.
"You couldn't really play on a pitch in this condition," said Barca coach Pep Guardiola. "It was a game of trying not to make mistakes.
"Malaga had won four matches in a row and that is no easy feat. I am happy with the win against a physical team that can hurt you on the counter attack."
Barcelona's next match is at home on Tuesday when they face FC Basel in the Champions League looking to continue their perfect start in Europe.
In the league Barca are a point clear of Villarreal at the top with the latter also winning 4-1 over Athletic Bilabo to maintain their unbeaten start to the season.
Valencia could have displaced Barca at the summit but fell to their first league defeat of the season with a 4-2 home loss against Racing Santander.
Congo striker Mohamed Tchite scored a sensational hat-trick to down Valencia who stay third, two points behind Barcelona.
"My hat-trick is not important but the three points for the team certainly are," said Tchite. It was only Racing's second win of the season and they jump to 11th spot.
Defending champions Real Madrid, three points behind Barca, are in action on Sunday at Almeria.
Elsewhere Argentine attacker Sergio "Kun" Aguero gave Liverpool something to think about ahead of Tuesday's Champions League match at Anfield with a brace as Atletico Madrid defeated Real Mallorca 2-0 at the Vicente Calderon on Saturday.
Aguero was back in the starting XI after being rested for the past few matches and returned with a bang scoring a first half double.
It was Atletico's first league victory since September 24 when they defeated derby rivals Getafe 2-1 and Javier Aguirre's side climb to sixth.
"It is a relief because we had picked up one point in the last four weeks," explained Aguirre, who said match hero Aguero still needed time to regain match sharpness.
"I will take him (Aguero) to Liverpool for the game but he is on an intensive training regime and has two more weeks of specialised training."
Villarreal put their Kings Cup nightmare firmly behind them with a 4-1 triumph at Athletic Bilbao to go second.
Villarreal went into the match reeling from a 5-0 Kings Cup humiliation by unknown Poli Ejido but responded in the perfect way.
Goals from Giuseppe Rossi, veteran Robert Pires, nearing the end of his career at 35, and Santiago Cazorla wrapped up the points for the visitors.
Villarreal now turn their attention to Wednesday's Champions League match against Danish side Aalborg BK.
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