Barcelona ensured they will be top of La Liga for another week following a late 1-0 win over Real Mallorca, with Sevilla now four points behind after a defeat at the hands of Valencia.
The Catalans headed into the 89th minute at Camp Nou wary that a 0-0 draw would open the door for Sevilla to take top spot in the late kick-off, but an own goal from Fernando Navarro handed them a vital three points.
It could have been an even trickier night for Barca - minus the rested Ronaldinho - had Gutierrez Jonas not missed a penalty after half an hour.
The Mallorca man had won the spot kick himself after being brought down by Victor Valdes, but the keeper made amends by saving Jonas' effort.
Los Cules saw a number of chances come and go at Camp Nou, but they finally broke Mallorca's resistance when a close-range effort from Javier Saviola hit the post and rebounded back into the goal off former Barca defender Navarro.
Frank Rijkaard's side are now four points ahead of Sevilla, following their 2-0 defeat to Valencia in the late kick-off in La Liga.
As well as denting Sevilla's title aspirations, the result at La Mestalla will give the Che hope of catching Barcelona as they remain six points behind with eight games to play.
Star striker David Villa was the catalyst for Quique Sanchez Flores' side as he scored twice, with the first (27) a fine chipped finish over Sevilla keeper David Cobeno following a superb one-two with Carlos Marchena.
La Liga's second-placed side should have drawn level on 33 minutes when Jesus Navas won a penalty after being tripped by Miguel, but Enzo Maresca's spot-kick was tipped onto the post by Santiago Canizares.
Villa had more luck four minutes after half-time as he claimed his second from the penalty spot, rolling the ball home after Andreas Hinkel had been dismissed for a professional foul.
Former Barcelona hero Hristo Stoichkov steered Celta Vigo out of the relegation zone in his first game in charge, whilst Real Zaragoza missed the chance to move to within a point of Real Madrid in the Liga table.
Stoichkov - who resigned as Bulgaria coach in order to take charge at Celta - galvanised the strugglers with his arrival as they secured a 1-0 win at home to Deportivo la Coruna.
Fernando Baiano scored the only goal of the game after 62 minutes as the fans at Estadio Balaidos were treated to only their second home win of the season.
Celta are now one point clear of Levante in 17th, after their rivals lost 1-0 at Atletico Madrid on Sunday evening.
Fernando Torres was Atletico's talisman yet again as his goal on 59 minutes saw the capital club move level with Valencia, temporarily at least.
Real Zaragoza are also firmly in the hunt for Europe, but they failed to pressurise Real Madrid further after falling to a 1-0 defeat at Gimnastic de Tarragona.
Former Madridista Javier Portillo scored the winning goal with eight minutes to go as the Primera Liga's bottom club earned a rare win.
Recreativo are now four points behind Atletico and Real Zaragoza following a 1-1 draw at Osasuna, with Florent Sinama-Pongolle (53) opening the scoring before Cesar Cruchaga's equaliser (56) for the home side.
Villarreal were unable to move into the top half of the table as they succumbed to a 3-0 defeat at Getafe.
Francisco Casquero (31), Maris Verpakovskis (66) and Sergio Pachon (84) were Villarreal's tormentors, whilst the Yellow Submarines also had striker Guillermo Franco dismissed with quarter of an hour to go.
Athletic Bilbao moved three points clear of relegation following a 2-1 win at home to Espanyol, but they had Ismael Urzaiz to thank for the win as he claimed a brace after Domingo Jonatas's early goal.
Click below for match summaries:
Athletic Bilbao 2-1 Espanyol
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Levante
Barcelona 1-0 Mallorca
Celta Vigo 1-0 Deportivo La Coruna
Getafe 3-0 Villarreal
Gimnastic 1-0 Real Zaragoza
Osasuna 1-1 Recreativo Huelva
Valencia 2-0 Sevilla