Nine-man Real Madrid suffered another Primera Division title wobble at El Madrigal as Marcos Senna struck an 83rd-minute equaliser to grab a 1-1 draw for struggling Villarreal.
Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring on 62 minutes for Jose Mourinho's men, who had seen their 11-match winning run in La Liga ended by a home draw with Malaga on Sunday.
After Senna's leveller, the visitors imploded with Mourinho sent from the dugout and Sergio Ramos and Mesut Ozil both red carded as Madrid were forced to settle for limping six points clear of second-placed Barcelona.
Mourinho was dismissed for his reaction to the equaliser, Ramos for a second yellow card and Ozil for apparent dissent, all in the space of three minutes.
Apono scored twice as nine-man Real Zaragoza came from a goal down to stun Valencia 2-1 at the Mestalla and claim a huge three points in their survival bid.
Zaragoza, the Primera Division basement boys, looked destined for a 17th loss of the season when a goal and a man down after only 21 minutes, but frustrated their hosts and snatched victory thanks to Apono's accurate finish 13 minutes from time.
Pablo put the third-placed hosts in front after only nine minutes and they looked in for a comfortable evening when Pablo Alvarez was sent off in the 21st minute, but Apono levelled from the spot nine minutes later and, with Valencia unable to make the most of their chances, put the visitors ahead deep into the second half.
Zaragoza lost Franco Zuculini to a second yellow card in the 88th minute, but held on for a much-needed win.
A second-half double from Radamel Falcao secured a vital three points for Atletico Madrid in the race for next season's European places as they beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1.
After an uneventful first 45 minutes, the hosts took the lead four minutes into the second half as Adrian Lopez freed himself just inside the area and after his initial shot was well saved by Gorka Iraizoz, Falcao was on hand to bundle home the rebound.
The Colombian doubled Atletico's advantage with a fine diving header 20 minutes from time before Javi Martinez pulled a consolation goal back in stoppage time.
Levante came from behind to beat ten-man Real Sociedad 3-1 and keep their surprise challenge for European qualification on track.
Jose Barkero's 12th-minute penalty cancelled out an early strike from Carlos Vela before Arouna Kone put Levante ahead. Sociedad were reduced to ten men after 57 minutes when defender Gorka Elustondo was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Levante wrapped up the victory with an injury-time strike from replacement Xavi Torres to move within three points of Valencia in third place.
Real Mallorca took another big step towards Primera Division survival and left opponents Sporting Gijon further in the relegation mire after edging a hard-fought match 3-2 at El Molinon.
Mallorca twice took the lead through Jose Carlos Nunes and an own goal from Pedro Orfila, but were pegged back both times through goals from Adrian Colunga and Alberto Botia. However, Sporting could not find a third equaliser to cancel out Alvaro Gimenez's 77th-minute strike as Mallorca took the spoils.
The victory lifted the Balearic Island side 12 points above the bottom three and now within sight of safety, but Sporting remain stuck in the bottom two following their 16th defeat of the season.