Racing Santander moved off the bottom of the table with only their second win of the season, this time over Villarreal thanks to Christian Stuani's first-half header.
Hector Cuper resigned as Racing manager on Tuesday and Juanjo Gonzalez did his case to get the job on a permanent basis no harm as the hosts got the only goal just inside half an hour. Gonzalo Costa fed Manuel Arana on the right and his fantastic cross was powered home from close range by Stuani.
Juan Carlos Garrido introduced Nilmar on his return from injury at the start of the second period and he forced Tono Ramirez into his first serious save with a long-range effort on 47 minutes. Jonathan De Guzman saw another speculative effort fly just over and Marco Ruben had the visitors best chance 13 minutes from time, but his effort was deflected behind.
Racing's victory moves them ahead of Real Zaragoza and Sporting Gijon into 18th, while Villarreal remain in 12th.
Despite Villarreal's dominance of possession in the early stages, it was the hosts who went in front on 27 minutes. Stuani had scored the winner in Racing's only previous win this season and he applied the all-important final touch again as his crashing header from Arana's perfectly weighted cross left Diego Lopez with no chance.
The introduction of Nilmar and De Guzman added an extra vibrancy to Villarreal's play after the break and their efforts on goal signalled a more direct approach from the visitors in the second-half.
Gonzalez had talked pre-match about making a few tactical adjustments to get Racing operating more effectively as a unit and they showed they had taken those words on board as Villarreal struggled to find any space between the lines in the attacking third.
The one player that did look capable of creating something with his pace down the right was Hernan Perez, and the Paraguayan delivered a great cross into the box on 77 minutes. Ruben had appeared to have done the hard bit as he controlled the cross instantly, but delayed in getting a shot off and was eventually crowded out.
A sixth defeat in 14 league games means Villarreal lose even more ground in the race for a European place but Racing could even move out of the relegation zone this weekend should Real Sociedad or Granada suffer a heavy defeat on Sunday.