Barcelona beat Granada 1-0 on Sunday in new manager Quique Setien's first game in charge of the Spanish champions.
Lionel Messi scored the only goal of the match at the Camp Nou to send the defending champions back to the top of the table.
Elsewhere, Real Mallorca picked up a surprise win over Valencia, while bottom side Espanyol beat Villarreal to secure their first La Liga victory since October and Real Betis downed Real Sociedad.
Sunday also saw Celta Vigo drop into the bottom three after a draw against Athletic Bilbao. Rafinha gave the visitors the lead, but a Raul Garcia penalty rescued a point for the hosts.
Barcelona were made to work hard for their three points against Granada on Sunday night at the Camp Nou.
Setien's side dominated possession throughout the match but did not fashion too many clear-cut goalscoring opportunities:
Granada almost went ahead in the second half when Yan Eteki's powerful shot beat goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, but it hit the bottom of the post.
The visitors then suffered a blow when German Sanchez was sent off for a foul on Messi that saw him pick up his second yellow card of the match.
Barcelona took advantage of the sending off and broke the deadlock seven minutes later. Substitute Riqui Puig was involved by winning the ball back, while Antoine Griezmann and Arturo Vidal then combined to find Messi in the penalty area.
The captain then coolly passed the ball past goalkeeper Rui Silva and into the back of the net for his 14th La Liga goal of the season:
Real Mallorca gave their survival hopes a boost with a shock 4-1 win over Valencia at a stormy Iberostar Stadium on Sunday.
Antonio Raillo headed the opener from Salva Sevilla's free-kick after just seven minutes, while Ante Budimir doubled the hosts' lead midway through the first half from close range.
Budimir powered his second of the match past goalkeeper Jaume Domenech four minutes before the break to notch a Mallorca landmark:
Valencia's hopes of staging a comeback were hit early in the second half when Dani Parejo picked up his second yellow card of the match for a foul on Budimir.
Mallorca made the most of their man advantage and added a fourth through Dani Rodriguez. The midfielder given too much time and space and took advantage by firing a low shot home from outside the penalty area.
Ferran Torres pulled a goal back for Valencia on 82 minutes, but it was to prove only a consolation, and the defeat will hurt Valencia's hopes of finishing in the top four and securing UEFA Champions League football for next season.
La Liga shared highlights of the match:
Real Betis also enjoyed an impressive win on Sunday, convincingly beating high-flying Real Sociedad at the Benito Villamarin.
Borja Iglesias headed the hosts in front from Sergio Canales' corner in from the right, while Joaquin knocked home his seventh La Liga goal of the season from Emerson's pass:
Mikel Merino almost pulled one back five minutes into the second half with an audacious effort from inside his own half that Betis goalkeeper Joel Robles just managed to tip on to the woodwork and then claim.
Canales sealed an impressive performance by Rubi's men in stoppage time, firing home from inside the penalty area after being teed up by Andres Guardado.