Real Madrid are almost champions of Spain for the 31st time after Sunday's 2-0
win in Santander, with goals from Raul Gonzalez and Gonzalo Higuain.
The authoritative win keeps Real 10 points ahead of Villarreal, who moved up to second earlier Sunday with a 2-0 home win over lowly Valladolid, with goals from Nihat Kahveci and Santi Cazorla.
Real have 72 points from 33 games, Villarreal have 62, and troubled Barcelona - held to a 0-0 draw Saturday by crosstown rivals Espanyol - have 61.
Sunday's other big news is that Ronald Koeman is about to be sacked by Valencia - just four days after winning the King's Cup.
His troubled team crashed 5-1 in Bilbao - with young Fernando Llorente scoring twice for the hosts - and is now fifth from bottom, just two points above the relegation zone.
Earlier Sunday, Real took the lead in Santander with a goal from the evergreen Raul in the 14th minute.
Wesley Sneijder set up Robinho down the left, and Raul flicked home the Brazilian's low centre with his trademark opportunism.
Instead of sitting back, Real continued to dominate, with Arjen Robben missing good chances to finish off Santander.
In the third minute of injury time, with Santander resigned to their fate, a quick Real break led to Julio Baptista and Javier Balboa setting up fellow substitute Higuain to make it 2-0.
"We played really well today," Raul told Radio Marca, "and should really have scored more goals."
Raul refused to concede that the title race was already won: "We just have to take this thing game by game."
The defeat leaves Santander - who have never played in Europe - in fifth place, one point behind Atletico Madrid, who crashed 3-1 Saturday at home to Betis.
Sixth-placed Sevilla are still two points behind Santander after Saturday's 4-1 meltdown at home to seventh-placed Almeria.
Deportivo Coruna are now in eighth place, after winning 1-0 earlier Sunday at lowly Osasuna.
Osasuna are now seventh from bottom, just one point above Valencia and Valladolid, who are on 39 points.
Two points behind Valencia and Valladolid are Zaragoza and Recreativo Huelva, both on 37.
There is really just one relegation place still to be decided, given that Murcia and Levante are already doomed.
Murcia - now under former Spain boss Javier Clemente - crashed 4-1 Sunday at home to Mallorca and have just 29 points. Spain striker Daniel Guiza banged in his first hat-trick for Mallorca, who are now 11th.
Levante remain rock bottom with just 25 points, despite a 3-1 defeat of Getafe, who are clearly in a tailspin after being edged out of the UEFA Cup by Bayern Munich and after losing that cup final to Valencia.