Diego Costa scored twice as Atletico Madrid battled to a 2-0 victory at Osasuna that kept them hot on the heels of second-placed Real Madrid in La Liga on Sunday.
The combative striker, who has been called up to Luiz Felipe Scolari's Brazil squad for their friendlies against Italy and Russia, finished off a counter-attack at the second attempt in the 35th minute.
Just after the re-start he guided Koke's free kick into the net from close range and he came close to completing a hat-trick in a typically bruising encounter in Pamplona.
Costa was forced to limp off with an ankle injury midway through the second half.
After two games without a win or a goal, Atletico moved on to 60 points in third with 10 games left to play, one behind their King's Cup final rivals Real, who came from behind to beat Real Mallorca 5-2 at home on Saturday.
Leaders Barcelona, with 71 points, were playing Rayo Vallecano at the Nou Camp in the late game.
Earlier, Malaga's joy at qualifying for the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time was cut short when Espanyol condemned them to a 2-0 home defeat.
Manuel Pellegrini's side, on their first venture into Europe's top club competition, came back to beat Porto 2-1 on aggregate at a festive Rosaleda on Wednesday, but they struggled against a well-organised Espanyol.
Goalkeeper Willy Caballero, the rock upon which much of their success has been built this season, made a rare mistake when he fumbled a corner in the 49th minute and Diego Colotto volleyed the visitors in front against the run of play.
The hosts looked short on spark and were undone again in the 66th when Mubarak Wakaso burst down the left and crossed for Sergio Garcia to volley a superb second into the top corner.
Home fans continued to sing and applaud their side despite the setback, but the defeat left Malaga, who have not won in their last four league outings, in sixth place with 44 points.
Real Sociedad and Valencia won on Saturday to climb above them into fourth and fifth respectively.
Sociedad thumped Real Valladolid 4-1 to move on to 47 points and Valencia beat 10-man Real Betis 3-0 to climb on to 45.
Sevilla are 10th with 38 points after hammering 10-man Real Zaragoza 4-0 at home, when Alvaro Negredo's 15th goal of the campaign made him the highest scoring Spaniard in La Liga.