Patrick Kluivert put visitors Barcelona ahead on 33 minutes as his shot hit the post and then Real goalkeeper Sander Westerveld. But that was the last celebration for Louis van Gaal's team as Darko Kovacevic scored either side of half-time. Things then got worse for Barça, who end the weekend still in tenth place, as Thiago Motta and Marc Overmars were both sent off late on for picking up second bookings.
Second-placed RCD Mallorca were held to a 2-2 draw at RC Deportivo La Coruña. Deportivo took an early lead through Roy Makaay before Mallorca's Ariel Ibagaza was sent off for dissent. Then Walter Pandiani - playing against the club from which he is on loan - equalised with his eighth goal in five games, and the visitors were ahead on the stroke of half-time through a Samuel Eto'o penalty. But Deportivo continued to attack, and Makaay scored his tenth of the season 19 minutes from time to level.
Blow for Valencia
Valencia CF are now four points behind Real after being held 0-0 at home by Deportivo Alavés. Rafael Benítez's side found no way past lowly Alavés and could face a spell without first-choice goalkeeper Santiago Cañizares, who was taken off on a stretcher 15 minutes from the end after sustaining a knee injury in a collision with Jordi Cruyff.
RC Celta de Vigo claimed fourth place as they won 2-0 at Real Valladolid. Catanha and Edu scored to keep Celta a point ahead of Real Betis Balompié, who beat Athletic Club Bilbao 1-0 with a goal from Marcos Assunção.
Espanyol off the bottom
RCD Espanyol off the bottom as they won 3-1 at home to Rayo Vallecano. Raúl Tamudo and Álex Fernández put Espanyol ahead, and although the latter player scored a late own goal, almost immediately Savo Milosevic struck to ensure his side overtake Vallecano and RC Recreativo de Huelva, who returned to the bottom as they lost 1-0 to Villarreal CF, Victor on target in the 64th minute.
Real Racing Club Santander secured three vital points as they beat Málaga CF 1-0 with a goal from Pedro Munitis. Málaga ended the game down to nine men as Josemi was sent off in the 73rd minute and Fernando Sanz joined him in added time, both for two bookable offences.
Japan for Madrid
Real Madrid CF's match with Sevilla FC was rescheduled to 2 January as the UEFA Champions League holders are in Japan for the European/South American Cup match against Paraguay's Club Olimpia on Tuesday.
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