Pedro scored a hat-trick in the space of eight minutes as Barcelona came from two goals down to beat Getafe and return to the top of the table in time for Christmas.
A much-changed Barca side without the suspended Neymar plus the injured trio of Xavi Hernandez, Lionel Messi and goalkeeper Victor Valdes conceded twice in the opening quarter of an hour, Sergio Escudero breaking the deadlock and then Lisandro Lopez scoring a header.
But Pedro's stunning burst of scoring was followed by a volley and a penalty from Cesc Fabregas in the second half - with Pedro getting an assist and then winning the spot-kick to crown a brilliant individual performance.
Substitute Jese fired home a late winner to earn Real Madrid a 3-2 victory at battling Valencia that keeps them within five points of the pacesetters.
Jese found a gap between Valencia goalkeeper Vicente Guaita and his near post with eight minutes left to give Madrid the spoils in a match which saw the managerless home side twice fight back from a goal down.
Angel Di Maria (28) and Cristiano Ronaldo (40) had put the visitors ahead but Valencia had levelled both times through headers from Pablo Piatti (34) and Jeremy Mathieu (62).
The hosts were being led by youth-team coach Nico Estevez following Monday's departure of Miroslav Djukic.
Athletic Bilbao will be sitting comfortably in the top four over Christmas after seeing off struggling Rayo Vallecano 2-1 but it was a far from comfortable night for the hosts at the San Mames.
Mikel Rico lashed home the second goal in the 66th minute, just moments after Alberto Bueno had levelled for a Rayo side who gave the hosts plenty to ponder.
Mikel San Jose had given Athletic the lead in the 32nd minute but there was an element of good fortune about both Bilbao goals.
Celta Vigo and Osasuna each claimed a point in a 1-1 draw as they both looked to inch away from trouble.
Emiliano Armenteros gave Osasuna a 17th-minute lead with the woodwork preventing the hosts from going even further behind moments later.
Augusto Fernandez headed home an equaliser in the 34th minute and although both sides tested the opposition goalkeeper, there was no further score.
Espanyol produced a dominant performance to swat aside Real Valladolid 4-2 at Cornella-El Prat.
Javier Aguirre's side looked far more determined than their opponents for the majority of the 90 minutes, suffocating them with high pressing which led to three of their four goals.
Sergio Garcia got the ball rolling by scoring a penalty after five minutes and Christian Stuani doubled the lead half an hour later. Victor Sanchez made sure of the points with a third goal on 67 minutes, and Stuani got his second and the fourth of the day shortly afterwards.
With the three points in the bag the hosts began to relax, and Javi Guerra and Victor Perez each pulled goals back late on for Valladolid, but there was never any doubt as to how the match would end.