Cristiano Ronaldo's brilliant backheel saw Primera Liga leaders Real Madrid win again, while Barcelona, Osasuna, Real Sociedad and Sevilla also claimed victories.
Rayo Vallecano were left to rue a glut of missed opportunities as Ronaldo's backheel earned Real Madrid a 1-0 victory at Vallecas to notch a seventh consecutive league victory.
Piti struck the post and Michu was denied by a last-ditch tackle by Sergio Ramos in the first half.
The hosts were then made to pay as Ronaldo skilfully backheeled in from 10 yards on 54 minutes after Rayo had failed to clear Mesut Ozil's corner.
Michu missed another great chance when he blazed over after being played in by Diego Costa, and his day was summed up a minute from time when he was sent off for a tackle from behind on Sami Khedira.
Second-placed Barcelona won 2-1 at Atletico Madrid to remain 10 points adrift.
Lionel Messi had a goal disallowed before Dani Alves put the visitors ahead on 36 minutes.
Falcao equalised for the hosts four minutes after the re-start but Messi won it with nine minutes remaining.
Goals by Gary Medel and Jesus Navas saw Sevilla come from behind to claim a surprise 2-1 victory at Valencia.
Tino Costa put the hosts ahead in the 25th minute before Medel equalised nine minutes before the break.
Navas then secured victory for Michel's team with a goal on 70 minutes as they claimed their second successive win.
Javad Nekounam and Dejan Lekic scored twice in three first-half minutes as Osasuna earned a narrow 2-1 victory over Granada.
Nekounam and Lekic pounced in the 26th and 29th minutes, although Mikel Rico pulled one back just a minute later.
Francisco Punal was then sent off for the hosts for a second bookable offence with 16 minutes remaining but Osasuna held out for the win.
Defeat brought to a halt Granada's recent improvement under Abel Resino while Osasuna kept up the pressure for the European places.
Substitute Nilmar scored a vital equaliser 23 minutes from time as Villarreal came from behind to rescue a 2-2 draw against Athletic Bilbao.
In a thrilling encounter that swung one way and then the other, it was the hosts who started the brighter and went ahead on 10 minutes thanks to Marcos Senna's wonderful free-kick.
Marcelo Bielsa introduced Fernando Llorente at half-time and the Spain international brought Athletic level with a calm header at the back post before the visitors took the lead on the counter-attack as Markel Susaeta broke clear to slot past Diego Lopez.
Villarreal levelled immediately, though, as Gorka Iraizoz spilled Alejandro Martinuccio's shot and Nilmar nipped in to side-foot home just his third goal of the season.
Real Sociedad climbed above Real Mallorca in the standings as Imanol Agirretxe's late winner earned a 1-0 victory for the hosts at the Anoeta.
Agirretxe lashed into the top-left corner in the 79th minute to settle the match in Sociedad's favour, lifting the hosts to 13th in the table - two points ahead of their visitors.