Ten-man Sevilla rallied for a 3-1 victory against Deportivo La Coruna to move into second place in the Spanish league on Saturday after Villarreal came back to draw with Valencia 3-3.
Renato's 78th-minute winner helped Sevilla improve to 35 points, one better than Valencia, which blew a two-goal advantage and several easy opportunities before Giuseppe Rossi's 84th-minute penalty salvaged a point for Villarreal.
Barcelona, which is riding a 16-game unbeaten run going into Sunday's game at last-placed Osasuna, leads with 44 points. Two-time defending champion Real Madrid has 32 and plays 19th-placed Mallorca on Sunday.
Sevilla second-half substitute Kanoute set up Luis Fabiano to equalize with a volley in the 50th, then Brazilian striker Renato headed home Frederic Kanoute's cross. Diego Capel added Sevilla's third in injury time after running on to a Jesus Navas cross on a quick counterattack.
Sevilla coach Manolo Jimenez praised Kanoute, whose entrance changed the face of the game when Deportivo held the momentum.
"Kanoute showed what we already all know, about the qualities he holds," said Jimenez, who inserted the Mali striker despite a muscle strain. "Sevilla showed its capability to react in difficult moments."
Rodolfo Bodipo curled in a low shot at the near post to give Deportivo a 34th-minute lead before Sevilla was reduced to 10 men in the 40th when Vincenzo Maresca was red-carded for an elbow to Bodipo.
Sevilla's victory will relieve some of the pressure on coach Manolo Jimenez after the Andalucian club recorded back-to-back league draws coming in following its early exit from the UEFA Cup.
It was the second of three meetings between the two Spanish clubs inside a week with Sevilla returning to El Riazor Stadium on Wednesday to defend a 2-1 first-leg Copa del Rey victory earned last Wednesday.
Villarreal joined Deportivo and Atletico Madrid on 30 points after snapping a three-game losing skid and denying Valencia its first league win over its neighbour in over four years.
Valencia was 2-0 up within 10 minutes after Ruben Baraja headed Joaquin Sanchez's cross into goal on the minute mark. David Villa cut back inside the area and beat goalkeeper Diego Lopez with a low shot for the Spain striker's 14th of the season.
Mata would have a goal ruled offside and David Silva chipped off the crossbar before Villarreal finally got on the scoresheet through Fabricio Fuentes's header on the last play of the first half.
"At 2-0 we knew that whoever scored next would change the game," Valencia coach Unai Emery said. "They did it for 2-1 which allowed them to get back in the game."
Villa skied Silva's low cross from point-blank then Villarreal drew even a minute later in the 76th when Joseba Llorenta tucked in a shot off his own rebound under the crossbar.
Moments later, substitute Edu Gaspar headed home to put Valencia ahead again, but five minutes after that Joaquin Sanchez tugged down Joan Capdevila inside the area and Rossi stepped up to score his seventh of the season from Villarreal's first penalty of the season.
"It would have been unfair for either of the teams to lose this type of game," Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini said.