Atletico down Espanyol, Betis beat Malaga
Atletico Madrid Manager Diego Simeone was delighted with the work-rate shown by his side as they held on for a 1-0 win over Espanyol despite playing 45 minutes with ten men.
Radamel Falcao's 38th minute penalty proved enough to reduce to gap to Barcelona at the top of the table back to 12 points, but Atleti were forced to do it the hard way after captain Gabi received a second yellow card in the final action of the first-half.
Atletico continued to control proceedings after the break and barely allowed Espanyol a chance despite their numerical disadvantage as they extended their run without conceding a goal at home in the league to eight games. Victory also stretched Atleti's advantage over city rivals Real Madrid in second place to four points, whilst Espanyol's first defeat in six games means they remain in 13th.
Elsewhere, Real Betis moved to within three points of Malaga in fourth as they beat their Andalusian rivals 3-0 at the Benito Villamarin. All the goals came in the first-half as Jorge Molina, Mario and Dorian Pabon were on target, whilst Molina also missed a penalty before the break.
At the bottom there was a big win for Celta Vigo in Abel Resino's first game in charge as Mario Bermejo's second-half winner handed them a 2-1 win over Granada. The Galicians are now just two points off safety, whilst Granada themselves remain just three points off the relegation zone.
And Real Valladolid also eased any fears they might have had over relegation after four games without a victory as they won 2-1 at Rayo Vallecano to move up to 11th.