Valencia climbed above Sevilla into third with a 2-1 comeback win at 10-man Athletic Bilbao on Sunday as they stretched their unbeaten run to 15 games in all competitions.
Valencia warmed up for next weekend's clash with rivals Real Madrid at the Mestalla Stadium with a fine win at San Mames to move three points behind Madrid in the standings with Barcelona eight points ahead having played one game more.
Substitute Iker Muniain, who holds the record as the youngest player to score in the Spanish top-flight, put Bilbao ahead on 58 minutes but David Villa equalised three minutes later with his 11th goal of the season. Frenchman Jeremy Mathieu netted the winner on 83 minutes but Valencia had to survive a late scare when David Lopez missed a penalty for Bilbao in the closing minutes Spanish international defender Joan Capdevila scored a brace as nine-men.
Villarreal twice came from behind to defeat Getafe 3-2 at El Madrigal on Sunday and continue their surge up the table after the worst start in their history. Capdevila's international team-mate Santi Cazorla had equalised with a superb volley before Capdevila scored the winner with three minutes remaining to sink Getafe and move into mid-table as Villarreal atone for their nightmare start.
"This is a good win for us ahead of our next match against Atletico Madrid," said Villarreal coach Ernesto Valverde. A superb first-time volley from Pedro Leon, who seems to specialise in great goals, gave Getafe a third-minute lead before Capdevila, who scores lots of goals for a left back, equalised on 17 minutes.
Minutes into the second half Cani was sent off for conceding a penalty and Villarreal goalkeeper Diego Lopez, who saved two penalties in his last league match, was helpless to stop Robert Soldado's fierce spot-kick. Cazorla came on for Robert Pires on 66 minutes and had an immediate impact volleying in a terrific equaliser 60 seconds later.
Capdevila then bagged the winner after great work from Joseba Llorente gave the UEFA Euro 2008 winner an easy tap-in. "Without doubt this was our worst game of the season," fumed Getafe coach Michel.
Earlier on Sunday Real Mallorca continued their perfect home record cruising to a 4-1 win over Real Zaragoza for a seventh successive league victory at their fortress Ono Stadium to close to within a point of fifth-placed Deportivo La Coruna.
Top-scorer Aritz Aduriz netted a brace either side of the break to take his season's tally to seven goals as Mallorca made it a perfect 21 points at home with Barcelona and Real Madrid the only other two teams with a flawless home record. "The players are ambitious to have a good season and it is not by chance that we are up there as we are a good 13 games into the season," said Mallorca coach Gregorio Manzano.
Saturday saw Barcelona and Real Madrid both win with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo taking the headlines. Messi scored twice as Barca won 3-1 at Deportivo La Coruna to stay five points ahead of Real who beat Almeria 4-2 at home. Ronaldo scored and won a decisive penalty for Real before spoiling his night by being sent off for kicking out late on and strangely didn't celebrate team-mate Karim Benzema's goal from his penalty miss preferring to rue his poor spot-kick.
"It is difficult when you miss a penalty not to dwell on it," said coach Manuel Pellegrini. "It wasn't bad sportsmanship and he (Ronaldo) doesn't have a problem with anyone else nor is he selfish."