Arda Turan's second-half goal gave 10-man Atletico Madrid a 1-0 win over Granada to stay three points behind Spanish league leader Barcelona on Sunday.
Levante, meanwhile, rose to fourth place, winning 2-0 at Deportivo La Coruna in an eventful match that saw each team finish a man short.
Atletico defender Mario Suarez was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence after handling the ball, leaving his teammates to see out the last 20 minutes with only 10 men.
"They beat us in every facet in the first half. In possession, in intensity of play -- in everything," said Atletico manager Diego Simeone. "The presence of Diego Costa in the second half helped us create more chances of controlling the ball."
Atletico was already a goal ahead by then as Turan finished off Jorge Koko's cross. Granada had the first chance of the game but Guilherme Siqueira's shot sailed over the bar.
Gabriel Torje's floated free kick set up Youssef El Arabi but his header was wide.
Atletico first threatened after 15 minutes but a Adrian's strike from distance was tipped round the post by Antonio Tono, who then palmed over from a Diego Godin header as the visitors continued to threaten.
Radamel Falcao had been quiet but three minutes before the break, the Atletico Madrid forward came to life, although his shot from 30 yards dipped over the bar.
Falcao, who was without a goal for the third straight game, could have also doubled the lead around the 60-minute mark but volleyed wide.
Atletico were reduced to 10 men with 20 minutes to go when Suarez picked up a second yellow card for deliberate handball.
Atletico's 10th victory in 12 rounds ensured it would arrive to the Spanish capital derby in two rounds ahead of third-place Real Madrid in the standings.
Elsewhere, Sevilla destroyed Real Betis 5-1 in a lopsided Seville derby.
Juan Antonio Reyes netted a double and set up one of defender Federico Fazio's two goals for Sevilla in his best performance since returning to his boyhood club last season.
Sevilla could not have asked for a better start at home, jumping ahead just 12 seconds in when Betis goalkeeper Adrian San Miguel gifted the ball to Reyes, who blasted it into the top corner.
"It truly was a complete night, for Sevilla, its fans, and for me," said Reyes. "I don't think I have ever scored such a quick goal."
Its rival rattled, Sevilla poured on the pressure and Fazio met Ivan Ratikic's free kick to turn it beyond the keeper with a header in the fifth.
Reyes took his second goal in the 32nd by slipping in from behind the flatfooted Nelson Tomar to finish off the rebound of Alvaro Negredo's header that had crashed off the crossbar.
The former Arsenal forward then crossed for Fazio to thump another header just inside the post two minutes before halftime.
Ruben Perez left Betis short-handed in the 62nd after getting two yellow cards in a six-minute span. Striker Ruben Castro pulled one back for Betis four minutes later, before Rakitic capped the demolition in added time.
"I have never seen anything like that first half, it was spectacular," said Sevilla coach Michel Gonzalez. "I take my hat off to all my players."
Betis remained in sixth place, with Sevilla one point behind level with Valencia.
At Coruna, Obafemi Martins gave visiting Levante the lead in the 40th minute when he latched onto a long ball, dribbled past goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia and rolled in his fifth goal in eight games.
Levante's Pedro Lopez was ejected for his second yellow card when he handled the ball in the penalty area. But Ivan "Riki" Sanchez sent his penalty kick over the crossbar in the 55th minute, and Aranzubia was given a red card for his foul of Martins in the 69th.
Having made all three substitutions, Deportivo used midfielder Alejandro Bergantinos as goalkeeper, and Jose Barkero scored on a long shot in the in the 82nd.
Mallorca broke a six-game losing streak by drawing 1-1 at Celta Vigo.
Forward Tomer Hemed recorded his seventh league goal in 12 games to give Mallorca the lead in the 22nd, and Park Chu-young met Iago Aspas' low cross to tap in the hosts' equalizer in the 56th.
Information from Press Association and The Associated Press was used in this report.