Real Madrid survived the dismissal of Iker Casillas to close the gap on La Liga leaders Barcelona with a 1-0 win over Espanyol on Sunday.
Real had a golden opportunity to make up ground in the title race after the reigning champions could only draw 1-1 at Sporting Gijon a day earlier.
A dogged Espanyol did their best to emulate the impressive achievement of Sporting and they were given a major boost when goalkeeper Casillas received just the second red card of his Real career inside the first two minutes at the Estadi Cornella el Prat.
But Brazil full-back Marcelo’s goal in the 24th minute proved enough to secure victory for the 10-man visitors, who are now five points behind Barca on the table.
Deportivo La Coruna climbed away from the relegation zone with a 1-0 win at home to fourth-placed Villarreal.
Central defender Alberto Lopo scored the winner in the 60th minute at the Estadio Riazor.
Levante moved out of the bottom three with a vital 1-0 win at home to relegation rivals Almeria.
Ecuadorian forward Felipe Caicedo, on loan from Manchester City, notched the winning goal eight minutes into the second half at the Estadi Ciutat de Valencia.
Two late goals helped Malaga come from behind to draw 2-2 at home to Getafe, but a point was not enough to lift Manuel Pellegrini’s side off the foot of the table.
Miku and Adrian Colunga put visitors Getafe 2-0 up early on at La Rosaleda, but Julio Baptista pulled one back from the penalty spot with 10 minutes to go, before Saloman Rondon equalised in the 90th minute.
Real Zaragoza are just one point clear of the relegation places after they lost 2-1 away to Hercules.
Osasuna slipped into the bottom three after a 1-0 defeat at Real Sociedad.