Real Mallorca continued their Champions League push with a narrow 3-2 home win over rivals Valencia on Sunday to move level on points with fourth-placed Sevilla.
Mallorca made it 13 league wins from 15 at their fortress Ono stadium and capping a miserable week for Valencia who lost their Europa League quarter-final to Atletico Madrid on away goals on Thursday. Gonzalo Castro put Mallorca into a sixth minute lead and Cameroon forward Pierre Webo scored a second on 21 minutes as Mallorca went in 2-0 up at the break.
Jordi Alba pulled a goal back for Valencia two minutes after the interval but an own goal from Portuguese midfielder Manuel Fernandes, who was later sent off, made it 3-1 on 63 minutes. Pablo Hernandez netted on 85 minutes to pull a goal back for Valencia and Mallorca survived a hairy few final minutes to net three vital points.
Mallorca were expected to be fighting relegation this season but coach Gregorio Manzano has pushed the islanders into the Champions League reckoning with just seven games left. Despite the defeat Valencia are nestled in third five points ahead of Sevilla and Mallorca.
Elsewhere Athletic Bilbao surged back into the top six with a resounding 4-0 win over Almeria to move two points ahead of Villarreal as the race for Europe intensified.
It was a 10th home victory of the season for Bilbao who were four goals up after just 51 minutes with Javi Martinez grabbing a brace while Igor Gabilondo and Fernando Llorente were also on the scoresheet.
Spanish international Llorente also missed a penalty as Bilbao ran riot and Almeria only had a consolation goal from Argentine Pablo Piatti to show for their efforts.
Depor stumble to draw
Deportivo La Coruna fell five points behind Bilbao with a frustrating 1-1 home draw against struggling Racing Santander. Ivan Riki scored in the first minute for Deportivo, who travel to Barcelona on Wednesday, but substitute Toni Moral levelled on 83 minutes to secure a valuable point for Racing.
Racing climbed up to 15th, six points above the drop zone while Deportivo's European hopes are fading fast after just one point from the last 15.
Atletico Madrid may be in the Kings Cup final and Europa League semi-finals - where they face Liverpool - but their league form is erratic and the club fell to a 3-0 defeat at Espanyol to fall eight points off sixth-placed Bilbao.
Atletico edged past Valencia on Thursday to reach the semi-finals of the Europa League but they came crashing back down to earth on Sunday.
Victor Ruiz, Argentine Pablo Osvaldo and Ivan Alonso were on target for Espanyol who now finally look safe, 11 points above the relegation zone.
Barca strike again in the Bernabeu
Barcelona moved three points clear at the summit following a 2-0 win at Real Madrid on Saturday in 'El Clasico' at the Santiago Bernabeu. It was a fourth successive Clasico win for Barcelona who stayed on course for a league and Champions League double after ending Real's perfect home record of 15 wins.
"No team had won at the Bernabeu so it is a real achievement," said Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola. "However, the next two games are fundamental and on Wednesday (against Depor) we will see how we recover and then there is the Espanyol game."
The league is Real's only hope of silverware this season and the defeat leaves them chasing Barcelona with just seven games left and the calls for coach Manuel Pellegrini's head have become louder.
Pellegrini took over in the summer but after an outlay of over 250 million euros his Real side have crashed out of the Kings Cup to Alcorcon, lost to Lyon in the last 16 of the Champions League and now trail Barcelona by three points in the title race.