Raul Gonzalez scored in the 52nd minute on Sunday to give Real Madrid a 1-0 win over Valencia and move the team three points off the lead in the Spanish league.
Raul's third goal of the season came from Roberto Carlos' low cross following a swift break down the left wing which also involved Jose Antonio Reyes.
Valencia's defeat deepened the slump in its league form. The 2002 and 2004 champions are in eighth place after gaining just two points from a possible 15.
Madrid's victory at Mestalla stadium was its third straight and was achieved without the injured Ronaldo, Beckham, Guti and Helguera.
The 29-time champions stayed in third place because Sevilla won 3-1 at Athletic Bilbao to keep hold of second place.
Two goals by Luis Fabiano and one by Jose Luis Marti extended Sevilla's unbeaten run to six games -- five wins and a draw.
Also, Diego Milito scored his ninth goal of the season to help 10-man Zaragoza earn a 1-1 draw at Celta Vigo.
In other games, it was: Racing Santander 4, Recreativo Huelva 3; Getafe 0, Levante 0; Real Betis 1, Espanyol 1; Gimnastic Tarragona 2, Mallorca 3; and Osasuna 4, Deportivo La Coruna 1.
FC Barcelona leads the league with 29 points, while Sevilla has 28, Madrid has 26 and Zaragoza has 23.
Valencia, already lacking six players, including captain David Albelda, lost striker David Villa through injury in the 16th minute.
His replacement, winger Vicente Rodriguez, saw plenty of the ball as Valencia dominated the first half but couldn't create clear chances.
Madrid's own injury problems worsened after the first half.
Defender Fabio Cannavaro didn't play after halftime while Reyes was carried off on a stretcher on the hour.
After Raul's goal, Valencia came close to an equalizer three times.
Miguel Angel Angulo fired into the side netting in the 54th, Vicente shot wide in the 68th and Angulo again blazed wide in the 89th.
Sevilla striker Luis Fabiano leaped to head home Frederic Kanoute's cross from the left and give the UEFA Cup champions a fourth-minute lead.
Worse came for Bilbao six minutes later when Marti's long-range, inswinging free kick caught goalkeeper Inaki Lafuente out of his goal and hit the post before entering the net.
Bilbao striker Aritz Aduriz halved the deficit in the 68th minute after Igor Gabilondo's header had rebounded off the post, only for Luis Fabiano to score Sevilla's third in injury time.