A bad month got worse for Unai Emery's Valencia CF on Sunday as they were beaten 1-0 by Sevilla FC and surrendered their hold on third place to Villarreal CF.
Knocked out of the UEFA Champions League by FC Schalke 04 on 9 March and defeated 4-0 by Real Zaragoza last weekend, Valencia were undone again as Ivan Rakitić made the difference for visitors Sevilla. The Croatian international's winning goal after 70 minutes was his fourth for the club since signing in January.
It also allowed Villarreal to propel themselves into the top three on goal difference by triumphing 1-0 at Athletic Club for their first Liga win in three attempts. Pegged back in the last few seconds by Real Sporting de Gijón last time out, the UEFA Europa League quarter-finalists held on this time after Marco Ruben (58) had put them in front.
There was no such luck for RCD Espanyol, in fifth, as they slumped to a seventh Liga defeat in nine matches, succumbing 2-0 away against Málaga CF. José Rondón plundered both goals to lift the home side three points off the foot of the table.
The survival prospects of Real Racing Club and Sporting were also boosted by respective 2-1 and 1-0 triumphs against Real Sociedad de Fútbol and UD Almería. Elsewhere, Rubén Suárez notched a last-gasp winner as Levante UD prevailed 1-0 at RC Deportivo La Coruña and CA Osasuna overwhelmed bottom club Hércules CF 4-0.