Real Sociedad reinforced their third-place position with a resounding 3-1 Basque derby win over Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.
Elsewhere, Yangel Herrera’s late lob handed Girona a 2-1 win over Sevilla, piling up more misery for Jorge Sampaoli’s 17th-placed side.
Imanol Alguacil’s Real Sociedad, aiming to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2014, moved six points behind leaders Barcelona, who face Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup on Sunday.
La Real is only three points behind Los Blancos, although they have played one game more than the first two, currently in Saudi Arabia.
Goals from Alexander Sorloth, Takefusa Kubo and Mikel Oyarzabal helped the hosts beat their rivals at the Reale Arena.
Goal by Oihan Sancet for Athletic, who saw Yeray Álvarez sent off in the second half for a foul on the superb Kubo.
“(I feel) joy, the goals are important for the people who play up front,” Oyarzabal told Movistar.
“The most important thing was everything else: winning, the way we did it, we were better in almost the whole game.”
Ernesto Valverde’s men have had a good start to the season and the defeat leaves them eighth, just two points behind the first four.
Sorloth scored his fourth goal in four successive league games to break the tie after 25 minutes.
The Norwegian went offside to control Igor Zubeldia’s header, sent it back into the danger area and then finished off with aplomb.
His second goal was brilliantly worked, with veteran David Silva recovering the ball and feeding Kubo.
The Japan international got past Dani Vivian and then fired confidently past Unai Simon to double his team’s lead.
Sancet closed the gap three minutes later with a great shot passed by Alex Remiro, to keep Athletic in the game.
However, Álvarez was sent off for bringing Kubo down in the box, a decision vehemently contested by Athletic, and Oyarzabal calmly scored from the penalty spot, his first goal since returning from injury in late December.
The Spanish striker, who tore a knee ligament in March, replaced Sorloth early in the second half after he suffered a knock, the only negative for Alguacil’s team.
“For the good of all, if that is a penalty it should not be a red card,” complained the Athletic defender Óscar de Marcos.
“The game was nice for the fans and after that, it was gone.”
– Sampaoli fights –
Previously, Sevilla were defeated in Girona and could fall into the relegation zone on Sunday depending on other results.
Tanguy Nianzou put Sevilla ahead on 13 minutes, but it was a mistake by the French defender that allowed Herrera to jump in the closing stages.
Cristhian Stuani equalized at the beginning of the second half, with Girona, 11th, in front and deserved the victory with Sevilla only scoring two shots on goal.
Sevilla striker Rafa Mir shot over the top in the closing stages but with the game headed for a draw, Herrera punished him with his 88th-minute goal.
Nianzou, who had already escaped with a lost ball in a dangerous zone, was assaulted on the edge of his own area and Herrera did the rest with an exquisite shot.
“Individual errors (they cost us), we do many things well but that’s very hard,” Sevilla midfielder Ivan Rakitic told Movistar.
“We have to understand that we cannot be wrong, this cannot happen.
“Everyone individually has to find their pride, this can’t happen again.”
Rayo Vallecano beat Real Valladolid 1-0, while Osasuna beat Mallorca by the same score at El Sadar.
On Sunday, Atlético de Madrid visits Almería, with the aim of returning to fourth position with a victory.