Atletico Madrid have edged a 1-0 win at Elche courtesy of a goal by Marcos Llorente and a penalty miss by Fidel Chaves to ensure they remain top of La Liga.
Real Madrid are two points back of their city rivals after late goals by Eder Militao and Casemiro in a defeat of feisty Osasuna.
Other than Llorente's first-half goal, Atletico relied on their defence and almost paid for it in the final moments when the goal scorer used his arm to disrupt a cross into the box.
But Diego Simeone's side dodged another costly stumble away from home when Chaves fired the resulting penalty kick off the left post.
Even though his men are still not playing like champions-in-the-making, Simeone wants to transmit the message that the red-and-whites are still in command.
"Now is not the time to think. This is the moment for action," Simeone said.
"We controlled the first 75 minutes, but when you don't put it away you know what can happen, the danger that two points that can prove decisive could slip away."
Barcelona are five points off the pace before their visit to Valencia on Sunday while fourth-place Sevilla are six points back before their meeting with Athletic Bilbao on Monday.
Then comes next weekend's pair of head-to-head clashes between the challengers: Atletico visit Barcelona on May 8 with Real hosting Sevilla a day later.
After that, there will only be three rounds left.
Real took the lead in the 76th minute when centre-back Militao headed home an Isco corner before Casemiro knocked in a through ball from Karim Benzema to seal the win for the defending champions.
"The rival defended well but with patience we got the result," Real coach Zinedine Zidane said.
"I am happy for (Militao) because he was patient. He worked a lot, waited for his turn and now is playing more and playing well."
Kike Garcia scored a hat-trick as bottom side Eibar beat Alaves 3-0 to give them hope of avoiding relegation.
Eibar's first victory in 17 rounds left them four points from safety.
Huesca's Sandro Ramirez scored from a free kick that went in off a Real Sociedad defender to snatch an 88th-minute winner.
The 1-0 victory lifted Huesca out of the drop zone.