Valencia missed the chance to go third after a 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao at La Mestalla.
Fernando Llorente struck in the last minute to earn struggling Bilbao an unlikely point.
Former Liverpool striker Fernando Morientes gave Valencia the lead two minutes before half time with a clinical finish from inside the box.
Valencia wasted several good openings to add to their lead in the second half and they were made to pay for those misses when Llorente headed home past Santiago Canizares to earn the visitors a point.
Atletico Madrid came from a goal down to beat Villarreal 3-1 at Vicente Calderon.
Villarreal got off to a perfect start with Fabricio Fuentes heading them in front on 14 minutes.
Ze Castro levelled matters for Atletico on 37 minutes when he headed home from a set-piece.
Fernando Torres gave the home side the lead right on the stroke of half time when he converted from the penalty spot after he himself had been fouled by Pascal Cygan.
Argentine teenager Sergio Aguero made the game safe for Atletico on 66 minutes with a cool finish.
Villarreal's miserable night was compounded when former Atletico ace Jose Mari was sent off for a lunge at Yourkas Seitaridis 17 minutes from the end.
The win was Atletico's first in four games, while for Villarreal it was their first defeat in seven games.
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