Match-winner Kevin Gameiro emphasised the importance of Atletico Madrid maintaining their lead over rivals Real Madrid in the race for second in LaLiga after a disjointed 1-0 win at Deportivo Alaves.
Atleti put the onus on Barcelona to wrap up the title in their clash against Deportivo La Coruna later on Sunday as Gameiro punished Mubarak Wakaso's handball in the area by scoring the winner from the penalty spot.
The visitors had already seen Fernando Torres miss from 12 yards, in a performance lacking in fluency with the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Saul Niguez and Jan Oblak omitted from the squad with an eye on Thursday's Europa League semi-final second leg against Arsenal.
It would take a monumental turn of events for Barca to not win the title, but for Gameiro the important factor was ensuring they retain the advantage over Madrid – who are four points back in third with a game in hand.
"It was a difficult moment for the team, but we've won it and that keeps us second in the league that's the most important thing," he told reporters pitchside after the game.
"The first [penalty] didn't go in, the important thing isn't that it didn't go in but we got the three points and were able to go four points clear.
"We have three more games to go, to win, two are at home, so it was vital to protect our lead and we've done it."
Atletico face home fixtures with Espanyol and Eibar, either side of a trip to Getafe in their remaining league matches.