Messi extends Barca advantage
Lionel Messi's 28th league goal of the season gave Barcelona a valuable 1-0 victory over third-placed Valencia at Mestalla and saw the Catalans stretch their lead at the Primera Division summit to 10 points.
Messi saw three shots kept out in one incredible move early on and missed two other good opportunities before popping up to settle a difficult match with 14 minutes remaining.
Barca had arguably the better chances, but Valencia matched the league leaders for long periods and could perhaps feel aggrieved that Jordi Alba's first-half effort was ruled out for offside.
Real Zaragoza came from behind to secure a vital 2-1 win at home to Athletic Bilbao in the Primera Division and move out of the bottom three with 12 rounds of the championship remaining.
Spain striker Fernando Llorente gave Athletic the lead early on, but the home side hit back through Jiri Jarosik three minutes into the second half, and Ikechukwu Uche completed the turnaround shortly afterwards to seal three precious points for Javier Aguirre's troubled team.
Substitute Elias netted a late equaliser to help Atletico Madrid salvage a point with a 1-1 draw from their trip to neighbours Getafe.
Getafe enjoyed the perfect start when captain Manu del Moral put the hosts ahead after just three minutes, but January signing Elias headed in his first Atletico goal with eight minutes remaining to ensure the spoils were shared.
The result sees Atletico move to within three points of sixth-placed Athletic Bilbao and the European spots after the Basque side suffered a shock defeat at Real Zaragoza, while Getafe are a further two points back.
Giuseppe Rossi struck the only goal of the game as Villarreal returned to winning ways with a hard-fought 1-0 victory at home to Hercules. Villarreal had failed to win any of their previous four league matches and that negative run had left the Yellow Submarine in fourth place ahead of this game.
Asier Del Horno struck an equaliser 13 minutes from time to earn a point for Levante with a 1-1 draw at Real Sociedad.
David Zurutuza's goal after a mundane first half looked to have given Sociedad all three points at San Sebastian. But former Chelsea left-back Del Horno slammed home from 25 yards to give his side a point they had seldom looked like winning.
Osasuna missed the chance to climb well clear of the relegation zone after being held to a goalless draw at home by Deportivo La Coruna. Osasuna will feel they did enough to win the match but, like Real Madrid at the weekend, they were denied by a mixture of the woodwork and good goalkeeping from Depor's Daniel Aranzubia.