Stalemate for leading duo
A review of the weekend's action in the Spanish Primera Division.
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Atletico Madrid passed up a glorious opportunity to go top of the Primera Division, conceding a second-half penalty to draw 1-1 at home with Sevilla.
On the whole it was a below-par performance from Diego Simeone's side, who may have been affected by the pressure arising from Barcelona's own stalemate just before and although David Villa's goal after 18 minutes put them on their way to victory, they failed to build on their lead and were punished when Juanfran brought down Carlos Bacca in the area, allowing Ivan Rakitic to level on 73 minutes.
Barcelona dropped points for only the fourth time this season as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Levante at Cuidad de Valencia.
Levante went ahead in the 10th minute through Loukas Vyntra's headed goal but Barca were quickly back on level terms thanks to Gerard Pique's close-range header nine minutes later.
The hosts defended in numbers after that and frustrated their visitors, who now find themselves entrenched in a three-way battle for the title with the two Madrid clubs.
Villarreal moved to fourth place thanks to a 2-0 victory over struggling Almeria.
Ikechukwu Uche scored the opening goal in the third minute with Bruno Soriano making sure of the win with a late penalty after Jonathan Pereira was brought down by Rafita.
The result means Villarreal leapfrogged Athletic Bilbao into the Champions League qualifying spot, although the Biscay club are yet to play this weekend and will host Real Valladolid on Monday.
Getafe fought their way back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Real Sociedad and even survived playing the final half-hour with 10 men.
Two headed goals from Imanol Agirretxe gave the Basque side an early lead but the hosts, helped by a soaked pitch which limited La Real's ability to move the ball around, responded with goals by Ciprian Marica and Pedro Leon.
Borja Fernandez was sent off in the second half for picking up two yellow cards but La Real were unable to take advantage.
On Saturday, Gareth Bale scored his first goal in six weeks as Real Madrid powered their way past Real Betis, recording a resounding 5-0 win.
The Welshman sent a left-footed free-kick into the net midway through the first half after Cristiano Ronaldo had opened the scoring with a thunderous strike from over 30 yards out.
Karim Benzema then widened the scoreline even further before the break, taking advantage of a fine move from Luka Modric, and in the second half Angel Di Maria scored his second goal in as many games before substitute Alvaro Morata piled further misery on Liga whipping boys Betis.
Rayo Vallecano were pushed into further relegation trouble after losing 2-0 away to fellow strugglers Elche.
The outcome of the game was never in doubt once the visitors went a goal and a player down after 19 minutes, Raul Baena shown a red card for bringing down Coro in the area and Edu Albacar scoring from the spot.
Paco Jemez's side could only seek to limit the damage for the remainder of the game and did a good job of it until Javi Marquez doubled the lead on 79 minutes.
Espanyol captain Sergio Garcia struck a superb winner two minutes from time to earn his team a 1-0 victory over Celta Vigo.
Javier Aguirre's side headed into the contest on the back of two straight defeats in La Liga, but returned to winning ways thanks to Garcia's brilliant late strike in an otherwise pretty dour encounter at Estadi Cornella-El Prat.
Osasuna stretched their unbeaten league run to five Primera Division matches with a battling goalless draw at Granada.
The Pamplona-based side had found themselves slipping perilously close to the relegation zone but victories over Espanyol and Real Betis in their last two matches, combined with previous draws against Real Madrid and Celta Vigo, had eased their concerns.
They picked up another valuable point at ninth-placed Granada in a match the home side largely controlled - especially in the first half - but could not find a goal.
On Friday, Valencia missed the chance to make up ground on seventh-placed Sevilla as they drew a blank in a 0-0 against Malaga.
Both sides failed to find the net in the goalless draw at Estadio La Rosaleda in a largely frustrating match in which both sides created several chances but converted none.