Celta Vigo were beaten for the fifth time in six La Liga games, going down 3-0 at home to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday with the Galicians distracted by Thursday’s Europa League semi-final against Manchester United.
Eduardo Berizzo made nine changes from the side that started Thursday’s 2-1 defeat at Sevilla and Athletic’s greater desire for the points showed as they boosted their bid to qualify for next season’s Europa League.
Raul Garcia struck either side of half-time before Mikel Rico wrapped up a vital three points for the visitors to take them above Basque rivals Real Sociedad into sixth.
Elsewhere, Leganes failed to take a step closer to survival as they were beaten 2-0 at Eibar.
Alaves came from a goal down to thrash Real Betis 4-1.
And Deportivo la Coruna moved eight points clear of the relegation zone with just three games remaining thanks to a 2-2 draw at already relegated Osasuna.
Deportivo still not safe
Deportivo could have mathematically avoided relegation with victory against already demoted Osasuna, but Juanfran found his own net in the 78th minute while trying to clear a free kick into the area.
Jhon Steven Mondragon had put the hosts ahead in the fourth minute, but Brazilian forward Guilherme scored in the 18th and 70th minutes to put Deportivo ahead at the El Sadar Stadium.
Deportivo, the 2000 Spanish league champion, needs at least a draw in one of its final three games to escape relegation for the first time since 2011.
“The team has improved,” Deportivo coach Pepe Mel said. “We are only one point away, and if we keep playing like this, we will earn this point. We have to remain optimistic.”
Deportivo is 16th in the 20-team standings and has an eight-point gap over the first team in the relegation zone, Sporting Gijon, which lost 3-1 at Villarreal on Friday to virtually seal its demotion after two straight seasons in the top flight.
Osasuna, promoted to the first division this season, had its relegation confirmed last round after a 7-1 loss against league leaders FC Barcelona at the Camp Nou. Granada was also relegated after a 2-1 loss at Real Sociedad on Saturday.
Before Osasuna’s home match on Sunday, players entered the field displaying a banner thanking the local fans for their support throughout the season. The team has won only one home game, with two more victories away.
Osasuna endured a 21-game winless streak in the league, and has only 19 points from 35 matches.