Goals from Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez fired Barcelona to a priceless 2-1 win over nine-man Atletico Madrid to strike a huge blow in the Primera Division title race.
Atletico got off to a fine start at the Camp Nou as Koke gave them the lead after just 10 minutes but Messi and Suarez each struck in the space of eight minutes to turn the game around before the break.
Atletico defenders Filipe Luis and Diego Godin were sent off.
Filipe Luis landed a studs-up challenge just above Messi’s knee and was deservedly sent off, while Godin was dismissed with a second yellow card for tackling Suarez late on 65 minutes.
A frustrating afternoon for Diego Simeone’s side was later compounded as Augusto Fernandez was stretchered off with a suspected knee injury.
Bruno Soriano’s second-half penalty saw Villarreal beat Granada 1-0 and return to winning ways.
The captain converted from the spot in the 55th minute after Jean-Sylvain Babin had fouled Roberto Soldado to give Marcelino’s side a first win in three matches.
The victory takes Villarreal level with third-placed Real Madrid on 44 points ahead of Los Blancos’ game against Espanyol on Sunday.
A solitary goal by Inaki Williams fired Athletic Bilbao to a 1-0 victory at Getafe to take the Basques up to fifth.
The 21-year-old headed in the only goal of the game in the 24th minute and Athletic clung on until the end, Getafe passing up several chances to level in the second half.
The hosts also had defender Juan Cala sent off in stoppage time for a second booking and lost their first league game at home in exactly three months.
Malaga moved into the top half of the table after picking up a hard-fought 2-1 victory at in-form Eibar.
Juanpi broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time to give the visitors the edge in an end-to-end encounter and Roque Santa Cruz sealed the points by striking at the end of the second half.
Borja Baston grabbed a consolation goal for the hosts in the last minute of stoppage time but it was not enough to prevent a first home defeat in two months for the Basques, who missed a chance to go fifth in the table.
Real Sociedad recorded only their second win in nine games to climb above Real Betis.
Firm first-half headers from Xabi Prieto and Inigo Martinez put Sociedad in control and they ran out 2-1 winners, with Betis’ solitary response coming from their top scorer Ruben Castro.
The victory saw Sociedad leapfrog Betis into 13th place and went some way to erasing memories of their 5-1 thrashing at Sporting Gijon eight days earlier.
Barcelona 2 – 1 Atletico Madrid
Eibar 1 – 2 Malaga
Getafe 0 – 1 Athletic Bilbao
Villarreal 1 – 0 Granada
Real Sociedad 2 – 1 Real Betis