High-flying Villarreal capped a fine week with a 1-0 victory over freefalling Sevilla, who slumped to their fourth successive defeat in all competitions.
Nilmar struck the only goal of the game in the 30th minute as Villarreal consolidated their place in the top three and, perhaps most importantly, put more distance between two of their biggest rivals in the race for the Champions League spots.
Malaga gave themselves some breathing space at the foot of the table with an impressive 4-1 win over Racing Santander.
Coming into the game just one point ahead of basement side Real Zaragoza, Manuel Pellegrini's men secured an important victory thanks to two goals either side of half-time.
Pereira Eliseu got them going and Jose Recio made it two before Markus Rosenberg pulled one back on the stroke of half-time. A quick brace from Salomon Rondon then helped them close out the game.
Mikel San Jose endured a Basque derby to forget as his two mistakes handed Real Sociedad a 2-0 victory at home to Athletic Bilbao.
The defender's handball allowed Xabi Prieto to open the scoring from the spot in the 26th minute and he then turned a Prieto cross into his own net early in the second half.
Pedro Rios continued his recent rich run of scoring form to help Getafe put their Europa League disappointment behind them with a convincing 3-0 win over high-flying Real Mallorca at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez.
Pedro Rios took his tally to four goals this week with a brace in the opening half-hour before Dani Parejo added a third late on for Getafe, who tumbled out of Europe in midweek after conceding an injury-time equaliser at Odense.
Luis Garcia's 69th-minute strike saw Espanyol consolidate fourth place and maintain their perfect home record in the league this season as they beat Gijon 1-0 despite playing most of the second half with ten men.
Raul Baena was sent off after 52 minutes for a second booking, but Luis Garcia later rounded Sporting 'keeper Juan Pablo Colinas before slipping the ball into the empty net to secure the three points.
Strugglers Almeria and Zaragoza had to settle for a 1-1 draw apiece in their basement battle.
Zaragoza looked set for a first victory under new coach Javier Aguirre when Gabi gave them the lead from the penalty spot halfway through the second half, but Pablo Piatti hit back 10 minutes later to earn Almeria a point.