Barcelona moved back to within ten points of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga thanks to another two goals from Lionel Messi at Racing Santander.
Andres Iniesta had hit the bar and Cesc Fabregas was denied by a fine save from Mario Fernandez. However, Messi came to the rescue when he brought his season tally up to 50 goals when he slid in to meet Fabregas' cross on 29 minutes and scored from the spot after Fabregas went down under Domingo Cisma's challenge.
Valencia squandered a two-goal advantage as Real Mallorca hit back to claim a point at the Mestalla. Unai Emery's men held a comfortable lead at the break thanks to goals from Tino Costa and Aritz Aduriz but the visitors, who started the day just five points above the relegation zone, showed great heart to pull one back through Emilio Nsue before Victor equalised.
Valencia, who had Costa sent off late on, remain third and still look a good bet to claim a UEFA Champions League spot, while the Balearic Islanders will reflect on a good away point.
Atletico Madrid claimed a hard-fought 2-0 win over Granada earlier in the day to move within four points of fourth-placed Malaga. The visitors started brightly and had a penalty claim turned down when Ikechukwu Uche appeared to be bundled over by Miranda, but it was the Brazilian who put the hosts ahead at the other end when, in the 39th minute, he volleyed in Diego Godin's header.
The second period was played at a similarly slow pace, but after Granada had been reduced to ten men when Henrique was dismissed in the 83rd minute, Radamel Falcao made sure of the three points as his shot squeezed under Julio Cesar after a wonderful run and cross from Juanfran.
Athletic slump to defeat
Athletic Bilbao failed to build on Thursday night's hugely impressive UEFA Europa League victory at Manchester United after slumping to defeat at Osasuna. The visitors, 3-2 winners at Old Trafford, were beaten by an own goal from Ander Iturraspe and a Raul Garcia header, both created by home captain Francisco Punal, while Fernando Llorente replied for the visitors.
Athletic coach Marcelo Bielsa outlined his priorities ahead of the midweek return against United by leaving Llorente, Ander Herrera and Javi Martinez on the bench and his decision backfired as his side missed the chance to move level on points with Malaga.
Espanyol remain locked on 36 points with Atletico as Kalu Uche's hat-trick inspired them to a 5-1 home win over Rayo Vallecano. Uche and Philippe Coutinho scored first-half goals for the Catalans and Coutinho extended their lead to 3-0 before Rayo pulled a goal back after the break through former Espanyol favourite Raul Tamudo. Uche completed his treble soon after, however, to end any faint hopes of a comeback from the visiting side.