Real Madrid kept top spot in the Spanish Liga Sunday with a late 2—2 draw at crosstown rivals Atletico, who are second.
The draw left Real Madrid with 64 points from 26 games, three more than Atletico and four more than Barcelona, who were due to host lowly Almeria later Sunday.
Karim Benzema gave Real Madrid after just three minutes by turning in a centre from Angel Di Maria, only for youngster Koke to level for Atletico after being set up by winger Arda Turan.
Atletico captain Gabi gave the hosts the lead just before half—time with a long drive which Real keeper Diego Lopez should really have stopped.
Real dominated the second half and were kept at bay by Atletico keeper Thibaut Courtois. However, there was nothing Courtois could do when Real’s Dani Caravajal set up Cristiano Ronaldo to make it 2—2 seven minutes from time.
Atletico have not managed to beat Real at their Estadio Calderon since 1999.
Earlier Sunday, Villarreal were held to a disappointing 1—1 draw at home to bottom team Real Betis, a result which left them in fifth place.
Villarreal took the lead 20 minutes from time when Bruno Soriano calmly converted a penalty, after Betis defender Antonio Amaya had pulled down Ikechukwu Uche.
But Uche was then sent off for an ugly foul and Villarreal were suddenly in trouble.
Veteran striker Ruben Castro equalized for Betis six minutes from time by heading in a centre from left—back Didac Vila.
The draw left Villarreal in fifth place, just one point above sixth—placed Real Sociedad.
Villarreal are six points below Athletic Bilbao, who seem determined to finish fourth and enter the qualifying round for the Champions League.
“This was a setback for us. We really should have killed the game off but instead we let it slip away from us,” said a disappointed Soriano.
Betis, in contrast, are rock bottom, five points adrift and seemingly doomed to be relegated.
“Draws are not really of much use to us at this stage,” admitted Betis coach Gabriel Calderon. “Only a string of wins can help ups now, given our situation.”