Real Madrid beat Sevilla 3-1 at the Bernabeu to move six points clear at the top of the Primera Liga on Sunday.
Gabriel Heinze headed them in front early on and Raul restored the lead just before the break, a minute after Frederic Kanoute had levelled for the visitors.
Gonzalo Higuain sealed a relatively comfortable victory in the second half, to leave the champions on 65 points with eight games left to play.
Their closest challengers are now Villarreal on 59, after they leap-frogged Barcelona with a convincing 3-0 home win over fourth-placed Atletico Madrid on Saturday.
Barca are third with 58 points after letting slip a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 away to Real Betis, also on Saturday.
"It's another small step towards the title but we have to keep on fighting," Real president Ramon Calderon told Canal Plus television.
"Villarreal are now the team closest to us but I'm sure Barcelona haven't given up on the title just yet."
Racing Santander beat Espanyol 3-0 away to close on the Champions League places in fifth.
Early goals from Oscar Serrano and Pedro Munitis put Marcelino's side on course for the victory, and a cheeky strike from Ivan Bolado at the end left them level on 50 points with Atletico.
After consecutive wins over Barca and Real, King's Cup finalists Valencia returned to earth with a 3-0 defeat against Real Mallorcaat the Mestalla.
Mallorca's Spain striker Daniel Guiza scored twice taking his tally for the season to 17.
Valencia's Cup final opponents and UEFA Cup quarter-finalists Getafe also lost at home as they fell 2-0to Osasuna.
Michael Laudrup's side were reduced to ten men when Cosmin Contra was sent off after 30minutes and never recovered as Miguel Flano and Patxi Punal secured the points for the visitors.
Realgot an early breakthrough when Argentina defender Heinze headed home Wesley Sneijder's free kick after eight minutes, notching his first goal for the club.
David Prieto's last ditch tackle denied Guti a quick second for Real soon after, as Sevilla were constantly opened up by the home side's rapid counter-attacks.
The Andalucians pulled one back against the run of play in the 38thminute when Daniel Alves's freekick was headed back into the area by Seydou Keita, for Mali striker Kanoute to volley home.
But Real quickly restored their advantage when Sneijder picked out Raul with his back to goal, and the 30-year-oldturned and squeezed a rising shot just inside the post.
A spectacular double save by Andres Palop from Argentine striker Higuain in the second half kept Sevilla in the game, but he was helpless to prevent the third goal in the 65th,as Higuain buried Guti's cross at the end of a slick passing move.