Málaga began the New Year by dropping three points, losing 1-2 to Almeria.
Hemed was the scorer of both goals for Almeria, one from the penalty spot, with Samuel finding the net for the Blue and Whites. Málaga drop to seventh place in La Liga but with a healthy ten point gap to Celta de Vigo in eighth.
Villarreal moved above Málaga thanks to a 2-2 draw with bottom club Elche. Vietto and Uche put Villarreal in the driving seat with early strikes, but Jonathas and Víctor Rodríguez levelled matters, all the goals coming in the first half.
A goal from Nico Pareja was enough to see Sevilla past Celta de Vigo while Atlético keep up their challenge with a 3-1 win against Levante. Griezmann bagged a pair and Godín scored the third for Atlético, El Zhar pulling one back for the visitors.
Cavaleiro scored the only goal of the match as Deportivo overcame Athletic Bilbao.