(CNN) -- Valencia beat 10-man Sevilla 3-1 on Sunday to step up their bid for the fourth Champions League qualifying spot from Spain.
Mata celebrates his successful penalty to put Valencia ahead.
Third-placed Sevilla took a ninth minute lead through Nicolas Escude but their hopes suffered a vital setback just before half-time as Brazilian Adriano was sent off for fouling Spanish international striker David Villa,
Sevilla then conceded a penalty which Villa duly converted to equalize.
Valencia went 2-1 up in the 83rd minute as Juan Mata, who took over the spot kick duties after Villa went off injured, duly converted after a handball.
Substitute Pablo Hernandez added a late third to clinch the crucial victory in the match of the day in the Primera Liga.
The win takes cash-strapped Valencia three points above Atletico Madrid and Villarreal in the battle for fourth spot -- five points behind Sevilla.
Earlier, Villarreal's Champions League hopes faltered as they were held to suffered another setback on Sunday as they drew 0-0 with 10-man Valladolid.
Giuseppe Rossi missed a penalty for Villareal after Inaki Bea was sent off for conceding the spot-kick on the hour mark.
Barcelona defeated Getafe 1-0 on Saturday to keep their six-point advantage over champions Real who beat Recreativo Huelva by the same scoreline.
Barcelona play Sevilla and Real Madrid are facing city rivals Getafe in crucial midweek Primera matches.
In other matches on Sunday, Espanyol moved off the bottom with a 1-0 home win over Racing Santander with Ivan Alonso scoring the winner.