(CNN) -- David Villa joined Lionel Messi at the top of the Spanish goalscoring charts, hitting his 13th and 14th goals of the season as Valencia moved three points behind second-placed Real Madrid after a 4-1 derby win over 10-man Villarreal.
Argentine Ever Banega opened the scoring in the sixth minute and Villa converted a 28th-minute penalty which he had won.
Villarreal's center-back Francisco Kiko was sent off for conceding the spot-kick, giving Valencia a man extra for over an hour.
David Silva, finding his best form after recovering from injury, made it 3-0 in the 56th minute before Villarreal's Brazilian Nilmar pulled one back five minutes later.
However, Spanish international Villa grabbed his second in stoppage time to join Barcelona's Messi on 14 goals.
It was a welcome tonic for Valencia following their Spanish Kings Cup defeat to Deportivo La Coruna on Wednesday and they are now just three adrift of Real who lost 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.
In other matches, Atletico Madrid made it a perfect three league wins in 2010 with a 3-2 home win victory over Sporting Gijon at the Vicente Calderon as they continued their push towards the European places.
Atletico had scored nine goals in their last two matches and the goals continued to flow with Diego Forlan, Paulo Assuncao and teenager Ibrahima Balde on target as a resurgent Atletico moved seven points off sixth-placed Sevilla.
Earlier on Sunday, Real Mallorca moved up to fourth place, recording a ninth successive home win with a 2-0 victory over rivals Deportivo La Coruna.
Julio Alvarez gave an early warning, hitting the post for Mallorca on 12 minutes and the goal duly arrived a minute after the interval through Mario Suarez, with Chori Castro adding a second eight minutes later.
It capped a fine week for Mallorca who reached the quarterfinals of the Spanish Cup in midweek with a win over Rayo Vallecano and now sit in the Champions League places after leapfrogging Deportivo, now two points behind in fifth, as they maintained their flawless home record.