Villarreal consolidated third place in the Primera Division thanks to a fine 3-0 win at Real Zaragoza as Javier Aguirre's home debut as coach of the Aragonese side ended in disappointment.
Early goals from Marcos Senna and Santi Cazorla set the visitors on their way before Nilmar sealed a fine win with the third after 65 minutes.
That came a minute after Zaragoza defender Matteo Contini was sent off and sealed the home side's fate.
In truth, though, Villarreal's win had rarely looked in doubt.
Zaragoza had started brightly enough, but found themselves behind after eight minutes, when Senna let fly from outside the box and beat Leo Franco with a powerful effort.
That goal knocked the wind out of Aguirre's side and less than 10 minutes later, they were two down.
This time, however, Franco should have done better as he let Cazorla's tame long-range cross-shot slip past him.
Cazorla and Cani both came close to a third before the interval, and although Zaragoza came out strongly in the second half and nearly got back into the game through Angel Lafita, Braulio and Nicolas Bertolo, it was not to be for the home side.
Contini was shown a second yellow card after 64 minutes and moments later, Villarreal clinched it as Nilmar latched on to Cazorla's clever pass and clipped a fine finish over Franco.
It was a miserable home debut for new Zaragoza coach Aguirre, who had stressed the importance of winning at La Romareda in the build-up to this game.
His side stay bottom, with eight points, while Villarreal moved closer to the big two.
Coach Juan Carlos Garrido, who has agreed to stay at the club for three more years, saw his team move to within five points of leaders Real Madrid and four of Barcelona, with Spain's two biggest sides set to face each other at the Nou Camp in Monday's Clasico.