Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema scored twice as Real Madrid laboured to a 3-1 victory at Racing Santander, in a game that saw both sides miss from the penalty spot.
It was a game that Real dominated, but Jose Mourinho's side made life difficult for themselves by failing to completely kill off Santander when they went 2-0 up.
Even with several players missing - not least Cristiano Ronaldo - Madrid had far too much for their hosts and Emmanuel Adebayor scored the simplest of openers in the 23rd minute before Benzema added a second moments later.
Pablo Pinillos' awful penalty wasted a chance for Racing to get back into the game, and although they briefly threatened after Kennedy Bakircioglu did get a goal, Benzema quickly ended the threat with his second. Adebayor missed a late penalty, but Madrid had already done enough to move back seven points behind leaders Barcelona.
Athletic Bilbao breathed fresh life back into their bid for a top-six finish after ending a run of four successive defeats with a 2-0 victory over fellow European hopefuls Sevilla.
Both goals came in the second half as Federico Fazio diverted a cross into his own net (66) before Julien Escude brought down Oscar De Marcos with two minutes remaining and Andoni Iraola slotted home from the spot.
Atheltic leapfrogged Espanyol after they lost 1-0 at lowly Levante.
The Barcelona-based side, who had lost five of their previous six league games, were edged out by Felipe Caicedo's first-half goal. Caicedo got in front of Jordi Amat to head home from Valmiro Valdo's cross after 26 minutes and give Levante a lead they had deserved following their early dominance.
Sporting Gijon climbed out of the relegation zone after ending their five-match winless streak with a 2-0 victory over stumbling Getafe at El Molinon.
First-half goals from Miguel de las Cuevas and Andre Castro decided the game in favour of Sporting, who move two points clear of the bottom three with the victory.Sporting finished the match with 10 men following the 85th-minute dismissal of Alberto Lora, but there was still no way back for Getafe.
A Sergio Fernandez header deep into added time gave Osasuna their first away win of the season as they overcame relegation-threatened Malaga by a single goal at La Rosaleda.
Fernando Soriano hit the post for Osasuna with four minutes left, and Weligton headed just wide at the other end moments later before Sergio rose to head home from a corner in the 93rd minute to ensure a dramatic ending to a lively and entertaining game.
Rock-bottom Almeria came from behind to stun relegation rivals Hercules with a 2-1 win and earn three crucial Primera Division points.
Trailing to Abraham Paz's header early in the second half, Almeria had looked to be heading for yet another defeat. However, they hit back through Sofiane Feghouli in the 70th minute before Modeste M'Bami's winner moments later.