Real Madrid defeated Racing Santander 3-1 on Sunday to remain in touch with Barcelona, while Sevilla suffered a setback at Atletico Bilbao.
Real, playing for the second time in three days after thumping lowly Malaga 7-0 on Thursday, kept within seven points of the La Liga leaders with a comfortable victory highlighted by a brace to Karim Benzema.
On-loan Manchester City man Emmanuel Adebayor, starting in place of the injured Cristiano Ronaldo, got himself onto the scoresheet with the opener on 24 minutes.
The goal was a thing of beauty, set up by Xabi Alonso’s defence-splitting through ball from the centre circle.
Alonso’s pass released Mesut Oezil, who played a one-two with Adebayor before skipping into the area past two defenders, drawing Racing goalkeeper Tono wide and playing across goal for the Togolese striker to casually side-foot into an empty net.
Oezil had a hand in Benzema’s first goal three minutes later, the Germany international again linking up with Alonso before threading an inch-perfect pass to his French team-mate, who went one out with Tono and proved up to the task.
Racing started to find their confidence in the second half and had a glorious chance to draw within a goal of Real when Giovani dos Santos was tripped in the area by Alonso, but defender Pablo Pinillos’ weak shot was easily cut off by Iker Casillas.
Bakircioglu eventually put Racing on the scoresheet in the 70th minute, shooting wide of Casillas after being played in by Mehdi Lacen, but Real had restored their lead five minutes later when Angel di Maria drove forward and again isolated Benzema and Tono.
Adebayor had a late chance to extend Real’s lead from the penalty spot, but he too failed to beat the keeper after a weak attempt.
Elsewhere, European hopefuls Sevilla slumped to eighth on the table as Bilbao snapped a four-game losing streak with a 2-0 win at home.
Sevilla defender Federico Fazio put the hosts ahead with an own goal in the 66th minute, deflecting into his own net in a scramble to clear a whipped-in cross, while Julien Escude was at fault in Bilbao’s second, fouling in the area and handing an 88th-minute penalty to Andoni Iraola.
In other results, Espanyol’s European hopes took a blow as they fell 1-0 at Levante, their fourth loss in five league matches, while 10-man Sporting Gijon trumped Getafe 2-0.
Almeria defeated Hercules 2-1 in a battle of the cellar dwellers, and bottom-placed Malaga fell 1-0 at home to Osasuna.