Atletico Madrid took another significant step towards UEFA Champions League qualification with a 1-0 victory at Levante.
Diego Simeone's Atleti were sixth in La Liga just a week ago but have since won three on the bounce without conceding to steal a march on their rivals and go third.
Marcos Llorente - this season's Champions League hero in the last 16 against Liverpool - was the star of the show on Wednesday (AEST), providing both style and substance as he had a hand in an early Bruno Gonzalez own goal.
Atleti were dominant throughout but failed to build on that opener - kept at bay by an all-action display from Levante goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez - in a deserved yet ultimately slightly nervy away success.
Swiftly stamping his mark on the match, Llorente had tested Aitor inside 30 seconds and soon forged the breakthrough with a sublime piece of close control.
The midfielder took a powerful 15th-minute pass in his stride as he turned into the area and then squared as Aitor advanced, forcing Ruben Vezo to clumsily turn the ball towards his own goal, although Bruno contributed an unwitting final touch.
Aitor did his utmost to keep the scoring down as he parried shots from Yannick Carrasco and Thomas Partey either side of the goal, while both Diego Costa and Llorente were wasteful from promising positions.
The Levante goalkeeper smartly saved again from Carrasco before the interval, which failed to disrupt the visitors' momentum as only an offside flag denied Thomas a fierce second.
Aitor bailed out Jose Campana after his error presented an opportunity to fellow substitute Joao Felix, who later blazed over when Levante again failed to clear their lines, a miss that maintained the home side's interest in the closing stages despite their failure to test Jan Oblak.