Sanchez and Messi steady Barca ship
Barcelona kept alive their title defence with a 4-2 win as Alexis Sanchez and Lionel Messi scored crucial late goals after Real Betis had come back from two goals down.
Pep Guardiola's side had led through goals by Xavi and Messi inside the opening 12 minutes at Camp Nou before Ruben Castro pulled one back after half an hour and Roque Santa Cruz made it 2-2 in the second half.
The visitors had Mario sent off with 19 minutes remaining for a second booking before Alexis' shot restored the lead 15 minutes from time and Messi made it 4-2 with a late penalty.
The hard-fought win ensured Barca remain five points off leaders Real Madrid.
Diego Simeone secured his first win as Atletico Madrid coach as his side dominated from start to finish in a 3-0 victory against a poor Villarreal.
The hosts had already wasted a number of chances before Radamel Falcao finally broke the deadlock five minutes before half-time with an easy finish after great work from Adrian Lopez down the right.
The same two players combined to create Atletico's second just after the break as this time Adrian's backheel set the Colombian free inside the area and he was brought down by Gonzalo Rodriguez. Falcao stepped up to take the resulting penalty and calmly doubled his tally for the day.
The home side continued to miss a host of good opportunities in the final quarter but Villarreal offered nothing by way of a response and Diego finally added a third as he side-footed past Diego Lopez 10 minutes from time.
Osasuna's 11-game unbeaten run at home came to an end as Racing Santander continued their excellent start to Juanjo Gonzalez's reign with a 2-0 win at the Reyno de Navarra.
After a cagey opening to the game Racing were given the opportunity to take the lead when referee Close Gomez somewhat harshly penalised Damia Abella for a handball inside the area. Christian Stuani took the spot-kick and despite Andres Fernandez getting a hand to it, he couldn't keep it out.
Athletic Bilbao produced a superb first-half display to ease past Levante 3-0 and move to within four points of their fourth-placed opponents in the race for a Champions League place.
Fernando Amorebieta opened the scoring after 11 minutes as he took advantage of uncharacteristically slack marking from Levante to head home Markel Susaeta's corner.
Oscar de Marcos then passed up two glorious opportunities to double the hosts' advantage before redeeming himself five minutes before half-time as he danced past the Levante defence and floated an excellent ball across for Fernando Llorente to head home.
Levante came back into the game in the second period and were unlucky not to get a goal back when Arouna Kone was wrongly flagged offside after 54 minutes.
However, it was the home side who wrapped up the three points in the final minute when, following Levante defender Juanfran's dismissal for a second booking, Mikel San Jose was left all alone to head home his second goal of the week from Inigo Perez's cross.
A stunning injury-time winner from substitute Oscar Trejo earned Sporting Gijon a vital 2-1 win over European hopefuls Malaga that helped moved them away from the foot of the table.
Although they started the night seven points clear of rock-bottom Real Zaragoza, Manuel Preciado's men are very much in the thick of the relegation dogfight in the places above.
They appeared destined to stay there too, when Ruud van Nistelrooy cancelled out Alejandro Galvez's opener with just three minutes left.
But, halfway through the time added on, Trejo chested down a pass from Alberto Rivera and unleashed a dipping half-volley that left Willy Caballero grasping at thin air.