Goals from Marcos Senna, Santi Cazorla and Nilmar gave Villarreal a 3-0 La Liga win at 10-man Real Zaragoza on Saturday as they trimmed the gap on second-placed Barcelona to four points.
Unbeaten leaders Real Madrid take on champions and arch rivals Barca at the Nou Camp on Monday in Spain's "Clasico" and third-placed Villarreal seized their chance to cut the big two's advantage with another classy display.
Zaragoza, who sacked coach Jose Aurelio Gay on Nov. 18 and appointed former Mexico boss Javier Aguirre, remain rooted to the bottom with just eight points from 13 matches.
Former Spain international Senna put the visitors ahead in the ninth minute at the Romareda with a superb long-range strike that flew through a crowd of players and past goalkeeper Leo Franco into the top corner.
Cazorla added a second nine minutes later with a clever lob and Brazilian Nilmar put the game beyond Zaragoza's reach with a neat finish in the 65th.
Zaragoza defender Matteo Contini was dismissed moments before Nilmar's goal after picking up a second yellow card.
Sevilla can climb above Espanyol, Valencia and Atletico Madrid into fourth with a home win over Getafe later on Saturday (1900 GMT) while Atletico host Espanyol in the late game (2100).
Real lead Barca by a point with roughly a third of the season played.