Athletic Bilbao beat Levante 3-0 in La Liga on Sunday to move within four points of their fourth-placed opponents and edge closer to a Champions League berth.
The result lifted them above Sevilla and Espanyol into fifth position, while eighth-placed Malaga play Sporting Gijon later on Sunday.
First-half goals from Fernando Amorebieta and Fernando Llorente, his seventh of the season, and a last minute header by Mikel San Jose were enough to see off Levante's challenge in a game that Bilbao dominated from start to finish.
Athletic have now only lost one game in the last eleven in all competitions since the beginning of December and can look forward to an exciting 2012 with all to play for in La Liga, the Europa League and Spanish Cup.
Atletico Madrid fans welcomed back former club legend Diego Simeone as their new coach with a resounding 3-0 win over Villarreal.
On Simeone's first home game back at the club everything went right for a committed Atletico side that took the lead on 39 minutes through Colombian striker Radamel Falcao who made no mistake when put through by strike partner Adrian Lopez.
Falcao added to the scoreline on 50 minutes from the penalty spot after he had been felled by Villarreal defender Gonzalo Rodriguez.
Brazilian midfielder Diego Ribas finished the scoring with a crisp right-footed shot after a perfect pass from his compatriot Filipe Luis.
Afterwards Simeone mapped out his plans for the short term future of his new team.
"The players are finding themselves, we have to go slowly as we are just getting to know each other, but their attitude is great and they are committed to do what we ask of them," he said.
Racing Santander earned their first away win of the season with a 2-0 victory at Osasuna.
The win came with two penalties converted by Romanian international Christian Stuani.
The first was harsh on Osasuna defender Damia Abella who was penalised for a handball, however the second penalty was more clear cut when Abella took down down German Acosta.
The result means Osasuna drop to sixth position, level on points with Athletic Bilbao, while Racing receive a huge boost moving four points from the relegation zone.
On Saturday Real Madrid came from behind to win 2-1 at Mallorca with late goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Jose Callejon to give them an eight-point advantage over Barcelona at the top.
The Catalan side have the opportunity later on Sunday to reduce that gap when they entertain Real Betis at Camp Nou.