AC Milan’s Mathieu Flamini went from hero to zero as he first scored and was then sent off in the 1-1 draw at home to Champions League rival Napoli in the Italian League on Sunday.
Flamini opened the scoring with his second goal of the season on the half-hour, but Goran Pandev brought the visitor level in the 33rd minute.
The Frenchman then went on to get himself sent off in the second half.
The 1-1 draw means Milan has just six matches to make up a four point gap on second-placed Napoli if it is to achieve automatic Champions League qualification.
AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri still believes his side can make it into second place.
“With four points and six rounds to play there are still many chances for us to catch Napoli,” he said.
The home side looked more lively in the opening period and created its first real opportunity after 10 minutes.
Napoli goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis clumsily parried a Kevin-Prince Boateng shot across goal but there was no-one following up for what would have been a tap-in into an empty net.
Cristian Zapata headed over from a corner not long after, before Boateng poked a Kevin Constant cross from the left just wide of the far post.
The game sprang to life when Flamini struck from outside the area. The 29-year-old took advantage of some wonderful one-touch football from Robinho and Giampaolo Pazzini to sidefoot past the outstretched De Sanctis into the bottom right corner. However, Milan’s lead lasted barely three minutes as Pandev found himself unmarked in the Milan penalty area and smashed a low Marek Hamsik cross past the helpless Christian Abbiati.
Earlier, a spectacular long range effort from Brazilian Matuzalem 10 minutes from time earned Genoa a vital point in its bid to avoid relegation after a 1-1 draw against derby rival Sampdoria.
Barcelona continued its march towards a 22nd La Liga title as a much-changed side was still too strong for struggling Real Zaragoza in a 3-0 win at La Romareda on Sunday.
Barcelona, playing without the injured Lionel Messi, remains 13 points ahead of Real Madrid which beat Athletic Bilbao, also by 3-0.
Brace by Ronaldo
Real Madrid remains 13 points behind the leader after two goals and an assist from Cristiano Ronaldo guided it to a 3-0 win at Athletic Bilbao.
In contrast to Barcelona, Jose Mourinho named almost a full strength Madrid side and was rewarded when Ronaldo got the visitor off to the perfect start with a wonderful free-kick that dipped into the top corner.
Ronaldo sealed all three points for Los Blancos with 20 minutes to go though as he rose to bullet Xabi Alonso’s free-kick into the far corner before the Portuguese slipped in Higuain to fire home the third from a narrow angle five minutes later.
The results: Italian League: Palermo 1 (Ilicic 4) drew with Bologna 1 (Gabbiadini 17); Chievo 0 drew with Catania 0; Cagliari 2 (Pinilla 63-pen, 76) bt Inter Milan 0; Torino 1 (Bianchi 31) lost to Roma 2 (Osvaldo 22, Lamela 60); Genoa 1 (Matuzalem 80) drew with Sampdoria 1 (Eder 28); Parma 0 lost to Udinese 3 (Muriel 12, 43, Pereyra 62); AC Milan 1 (Flamini 29) drew with Napoli 1 (Pandev 33).
Spanish League: Rayo Vallecano 0 lost to Real Sociedad 2 (Agirretxe 6, 14); Atletico Madrid 5 (Diego Costa 4, Falcao 27, 47, Raul Garcia 63, Filipe Luis 70) bt Granada 0; Real Zaragoza 0 lost to Barcelona 3 (Thiago 20, Tello 39, 53); Athletic Bilbao 0 lost to Real Madrid 3 (Cristiano Ronaldo 2, 68, Higuain 76).