Real Madrid survived Nacho Fernandez's late dismissal to win 2-1 at Levante on Sunday, when Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale each scored penalties to just about keep Los Blancos in title contention.
Alvaro Morata finally ended his Atletico Madrid goal drought as the January loan signing scored their first in a 2-0 home win over Villarreal, where Saul Niguez supplied the second strike.
Los Rojiblancos remain second and two points in front of rivals Real after 25 matches, winning a third game in succession after they lost 3-1 at home to Los Blancos at the beginning of February.
Real Betis ended a five-match run without a win when they beat Valladolid 2-0 at the Estadio Municipal Jose Zorrilla. Aissa Mandi scored on the stroke of half-time, and Joaquin made sure of the victory with a second strike in the 87th minute.
Valencia were held 1-1 in their trip to Leganes and have now drawn their last four league matches in succession, with Martin Braithwaite snatching an 89th-minute equaliser to keep Los Che ninth.
Leganes 1-1 Valencia
Atletico Madrid 2-0 Villarreal
Valladolid 0-2 Real Betis
Levante 1-2 Real Madrid
La Liga Standings (Games Played, Points, Goal Difference)
1. Barcelona: 25, 57, +40
2. Atletico Madrid: 25, 50, +19
3. Real Madrid: 25, 48, +13
4. Getafe: 25, 39, +10
5. Sevilla: 25, 37, +8
6. Alaves: 25, 37, -3
7. Real Betis: 25, 36, -1
8. Real Sociedad: 24, 34, +5
9. Valencia: 25, 33, +4
10. Athletic Bilbao: 25, 33, -3
11. Eibar: 25, 31, -2
12. Leganes: 25, 30, -5
13. Levante: 25, 30, -8
14. Espanyol: 25, 30, -10
15. Girona: 24, 27, -9
16. Valladolid: 25, 26, -12
17. Celta Vigo: 25, 25, -7
18. Villarreal: 25, 23, -7
19. Rayo Vallecano: 25, 23, -15
20. Huesca: 25, 19, -17
Santiago Solari's side failed to score from open play on Sunday, but the video assistant referee gave them the assistance needed to score two crucial spot-kicks and triumph 2-1 at Levante.
Roger Marti equalised with a fine goal for the hosts, but sportswriter Euan McTear expressed disappointment with how Real had won, beating the home side thanks to two controversially awarded penalties:
Euan McTear @emctear
Let's make one thing clear. Barcelona and Real Madrid never have a right to complain about supposed refereeing/VAR bias and never have. They both benefit to roughly the same extent. It's the smaller clubs like Levante who suffer, but their irritation doesn't make the front pages.
Play was brought back for a handball in the box for Real's first, while a tackle on Casemiro was adjudged to have been a foul for their second. Bale replaced Benzema just minutes prior and followed the Frenchman's lead by netting from 12 yards.
Nacho's second caution of the game after 86 minutes made for a tense finish, but Los Blancos got their three points nonetheless and now look to Wednesday's Copa del Rey semi-final second leg against Barcelona.
There was major relief for Morata at the Wanda Metropolitano, where he ended his agonising wait for a goal after returning to his boyhood club last month.
The 26-year-old—on loan from Chelsea until June 2020—came up with a cool, first-time finish just after the half-hour mark to put his new club ahead in Madrid, via Eleven Sports:
Morata had come close to opening his Atletico account on numerous occasions since joining but made it official against Villarreal, who have won just once in their last 15 away games.
Saul was found clear of his marker at the back post with minutes remaining, and the midfielder showed quick initiative to lob goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo from less than 10 yards out.
Betis won by the same scoreline to the north in Valladolid, where Mandi showed central defenders can be just as capable of scoring golazos as their more attacking team-mates:
Joaquin, 37, came on at half-time and scored Betis' second to see the result over the line and marked a special fixture in fine fashion:
The early fixture saw Valencia travel to Leganes with a vision of moving up to eighth in La Liga, with a win being enough to take them above Real Sociedad and back into the frame for European football next season.
Geoffrey Kondogbia put the travelling team ahead after 22 minutes, but in a familiar story for Los Che, Valencia failed to hold their composure and dropped two points following Braithwaite's intervention:
Manager Marcelino's men have lost only four times in La Liga this season—one more than Atletico and only two more than Barca—but journalist Sid Lowe couldn't help exclaim at their draw count:
Leganes, 12th, will be much more appeased with their share of the spoils, while Valencia will rue another chance at three points gone astray.