Raul bagged himself a hat-trick as Real Madrid overcame Sevilla, while Villarreal enjoyed away joy.
Real, Villarreal, Atletico and Espanyol all win
Raul bagged himself a hat-trick as Real Madrid overcame Sevilla, while Villarreal enjoyed away joy to boost their UEFA Champions League hopes in Sunday's Spanish action.
Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid did their under-fire boss a favour by running out convincing winners against struggling Sporting Gijon after Espanyol beat Real Betis to steer them clear of relegation.
An opportunist hat-trick from captain Raul helped Real Madrid
to a 4-2 comeback win at Sevilla
which cut Barcelona's lead at the top of the Primera Liga standings to four points.
Third-placed Sevilla went ahead in the 17th minute when midfielder Renato nipped in front of his marker to score from close range before Raul turned in a low cross from Christoph Metzelder just before half-time.
The 31-year-old striker hooked in a deflected cross on 63 minutes and pounced on a fumble by Sevilla goalkeeper Andres Palop to make it 3-1 three minutes later.
Substitute Diego Capel pulled one back with just under 10 minutes left before Marcelo raced clear to score Real's fourth and seal their 16th win in 17 matches since a 2-0 defeat at Barca's Camp Nou in December.
travelled to Getafe
and won 2-1 to keep alive their chances of returning to next season's Champions League.
First-half strikes from Joan Capdevila and Joseba Llorente put Villarreal in control and both sides had a player sent off midway through the second-half.
Manu del Moral pulled one back from the penalty spot late on, as Getafe put in a spirited finish.
helped ease the pressure on manager Abel Resino by beating Sporting Gijon
3-1 at home to go sixth in the table.
Simao saw red for the hosts in the second-half but the Portuguese winger joined Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero on the scoresheet prior to his dismissal to render Mate Bilic's 47th minute goal insignificant for Sporting, who slip into the bottom-three.
Spanish Cup finalists Athletic Bilbao
won a stormy encounter against north-coast rivals Racing Santander
2-1 in which five players were given their marching orders during the second-half.
Bilbao led 2-0 from the first-half with Fernando Llorente (21) and David Lopez (42 pen) getting on the scoresheet before the hosts finished with nine men on the pitch, while Racing had three sent off after Pablo Pinillos' 56th minute penalty.
At the foot of the table, Espanyol
pulled themselves clear of the relegation places with a 2-0 home win over Real Betis
with Luis Garcia (4) and Roman Martinez (85) providing the goals.
stay second-bottom after a 4-2 home defeat by Real Mallorca
The visitors took a two goal lead into the interval when Jurado and Juan Arango found the net, before Sisi grabbed one back for the hosts three minutes into the second-half.
Gonzalo Castro (76) and Alhassane Keita (91) scored Mallorca's other goals between Javier Camunas' 81st minute strike for Recreativo.
In the day's other fixture Valladolid
played out a 0-0 draw.