Primera Liga round-up
Barcelona stumbled in their pursuit of Real Madrid as they were held by Espanyol, while Valencia had to come from behind to draw with Villarreal.
Last Updated: 08/01/12 10:32pm
Barcelona stumbled in their pursuit of Real Madrid at the top of the table as they were held 1-1 by Espanyol, while third-placed Valencia had to come from behind to draw with struggling Villarreal.
Barcelona trailed their fierce rivals by six points ahead of kick-off in the Catalan derby, following Real Madrid's 5-1 thrashing of Granada on Saturday.
Cesc Fabregas put Barca on course for victory with the opening goal after 16 minutes, but Pep Guardiola's side could not add to their lead as Espanyol battled hard.
And Espanyol managed to retrieve a late point in dramatic fashion as substitute Alvaro Vazquez struck with just four minutes remaining.
Aritz Aduriz scored three minutes from time as Valencia recovered from two goals down to draw 2-2 against Villarreal at El Madrigal.
Jorge Molina was taking charge of Villarreal for the first time and his side made an ideal start as Marco Ruben and Gonzalo had them 2-0 up inside 18 minutes.
But Sofiane Feghouli finished well at the end of an excellent team move to get one back before half-time and Villarreal were made to pay for passing up chances to kill the game off in the second half as Aduriz calmly curled the ball home from 18 yards.
Jose Antonio Reyes failed to inspire Sevilla to victory on his return to the club as Rayo Vallecano picked up a valuable 2-1 win.
Miguel Michu opened the scoring for the hosts before Raul Tamudo made it two six minutes into the second period, and although Julien Escude pulled one back for the visitors just after the hour, Rayo held on for their first win in five in La Liga.
Real Betis made it three straight wins with a 2-0 victory at home to nine-man Sporting Gijon.
On-loan striker Roque Santa Cruz scored the opener midway through the first half and substitute Jorge Molina made the points safe in injury time.
Sporting played the entire second half a man light after Alberto Lora was sent off a minute before half-time after picking up two yellow cards in six minutes for two fouls on Jefferson Montero.
And they finished the game two men down after Carmelo was also shown a second yellow seconds from the final whistle.
Getafe and Athletic Bilbao shared the points in an entertaining 0-0 match at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez.
Most of the clear-cut chances came in the second period, as Markel Susaeta hit the bar for the visitors and Miku did likewise for Getafe.
But in the end it was the goalkeepers who came out on top as Gorka Iraizoz and Miguel Angel Moya both made crucial saves in the final 10 minutes to maintain the deadlock.