Real Madrid cut the gap between them and Barcelona to 13 points with a morale boosting 2-1 win over the Catalans at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Karim Benzema gave Los Blancos an early lead but Lionel Messi levelled just over 10 minutes later to become the joint-top scorer of all time in the Clasico.
Sergio Ramos headed in a corner to restore Madrid's lead with nine minutes remaining, and Victor Valdes was sent off on the final whistle for a second yellow card after arguing with referee Miguel Angel Perez Lasa.
Athletic Bilbao eased their drop fears with a much-needed 1-0 victory over local rivals Osasuna at the Reyno de Navarra stadium to move six points clear of the relegation zone.
A volleyed goal by Markel Susaeta midway through the second half was enough to give Marcelo Bielsa's side the three points, but the Navarrans were superior for large periods of the match.
Deportivo La Coruna brought to an end their six-match losing streak but still remain deep in trouble at the foot of the table after being held 0-0 at home by Rayo Vallecano.
It might have been even worse for the Galician side after they found themselves on the back foot for much of the first half and then reduced to 10 men in the closing stages when veteran defender Carlos Marchena was sent off. However, there was not enough time for Rayo to make the most of their extra man as the points were shared at the Riazor.
In the final match of the day, Valencia missed an opportunity to move above Malaga into fourth place, with Levante scoring a late equaliser to secure a 2-2 draw at the Estadio Mestalla.
Vicente Iborra scored an early opener for the visitors when he headed a Juanfran corner past poorly positioned goalkeeper Vicente Guaita.
But the lead didn't last long as Jonas picked up the scraps when Levante's defence failed to clear their lines. Roberto Soldado then handed Valencia cause for optimism heading into the break when the striker buried a well-timed volley to give his side a 2-1 advantage.
Jose Barkero was assisted by some poor Valencia defence as he made a darting run into the box and shot in the bottom corner to salvage a point for Levante.