Villarreal's 2-0 defeat away to Sevilla on Sunday leaves Real Madrid seven points clear at the top of the Spanish first division. ( dpa )
Sevilla won thanks to goals from league top scorer Luis Fabiano and veteran Frederic Kanoute.
Luis Fabiano put Sevilla ahead in the 19th minute with a powerful drive, after taking a pass from fellow Brazilian Daniel Alves.
Villarreal never got into any kind of rythym and Sevilla squandered god chances to polish them off.
Four minutes from time Sevilla were given a penalty after Villarreal keeper Diego Lopez had pulled down Jesus Navas. Kanoute calmly made it 2-0 from the spot.
To add insult to injury, Villarreal left-back Joan Capdevila was sent off in injury time.
The defeat leaves Villarreal with 59 points from 31 games, seven points behind Real, who were lucky to draw 1-1 away to Mallorca on Saturday.
Villarreal's defeat gives Barcelona the chance to retake second place.
Barca - at home to Getafe in Sunday's late game - have 58 points at present.
Five points behind Barca, in fourth place, are Atletico Madrid, who beat Almeria 6- 3 in Sunday's most eventful match.
Atletico now have 53 points from 31 games, five points less than third-placed Barcelona, who are at home to Getafe later on Sunday.
Teenage sensation Sergio Aguero led the rout with two goals. Portugal winger Simao Sabrosa also scored twice, whilst Antonio Lopez and Diego Forlan chipped in with a goal apiece.
Atletico are now three points above fifth-placed Racing Santander, who crashed 3-1 at home to Deportivo Coruna, for whom Xisco Jimenez scored two.
In sixth place, now just two points behind Santander, are Sevilla.
Out-of-form Espanyol remain seventh after losing 1- 0 in Bilbao, who move up to eighth.
At the other end of the table, doomed Levante stay rock bottom after crashing 0-3 at home to lively Valladolid.
Murcia are still second from bottom despite a defiant 1-0 win over troubled Valencia, with a goal from veteran Uruguayan striker Ivan Alonso.
Sunday's big shock was Zaragoza's 0-3 meltdown at home to Betis, a result which leaves Zaragoza third from bottom and in massive trouble.
Zaragoza are now three points behind fourth-from-bottom Recreativo Huelva, who won 1-0 away to Osasuna on Saturday.
Osasuna now have just one point more than Huelva. Valladolid are one point ahead of Osasuna and one point below Getafe and Valencia.