Barcelona’s lead over Real Madrid at the top of La Liga evaporated on after they were held to a 1-1 home draw in an ill-tempered clash with local rivals Espanyol.
Real Madrid had taken top spot on Friday with a 2-0 win at Real Valladolid, putting pressure on Barcelona to respond against an Espanyol side battling to avoid relegation.
Defender Marcos Alonso put Barcelona in front at the Nou Camp, before Joselu converted a second-half penalty to level the game.
Barcelona started strongly, with Gavi stinging the palms of Espanyol goalkeeper Alvaro Fernandez in the sixth minute, shortly before Alonso glanced a header into the net following a corner.
After going ahead, Xavi Hernandez’s side dominated possession with their slick passing for the rest of the first half, but struggled to convert any of the numerous goal-scoring chances that fell their way.
They kept up the pressure after the break, but all their good work came undone as Alonso turned from hero to zero, giving away a penalty following a clumsy foul on Joselu.
Joselu picked himself up to convert the spot-kick, calmly rolling it straight down the middle to make it 1-1 in the 73rd minute.
Tempers flared in the aftermath of the equaliser, with Barcelona’s Jordi Alba being sent off after receiving back-to-back yellow cards for vociferous protests against the referee.
Espanyol’s Vinicius Souza was then shown a second yellow card for a foul on Robert Lewandowski two minutes later.
Defender Leandro Cabrera was also shown a red card for kneeing Lewandowski in the back after he was brought down by Souza, but a VAR review let Espanyol off the hook.
Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz, who attracted criticism earlier this month after showing 16 yellow cards in Argentina’s quarter-final win over the Netherlands at the World Cup, went to the monitor before overturning his decision.
Espanyol goalkeeper Fernandez kept his side in it with a couple of fine stops towards the end of the match, keeping out a header from Andreas Christensen and a low shot from Lewandowski, as Barcelona were unable to find a winner.
La Liga table | Results | Fixtures
Real Sociedad beat Osasuna to leapfrog Atletico
Real Sociedad beat Osasuna 2-0 to move past Atletico Madrid and back into third place, at nine points adrift of the front-runners.
Brais Mendez scored in the first half and Alexander Sorloth put the result beyond doubt in the 64th minute.
Sociedad forward Mikel Oyarzabal returned in the win over Osasuna from a long injury lay-off after tearing ligaments in his left knee in March.
Meanwhile, a late goal by Argentina defender Juan Foyth gave Villarreal a 2-1 win over Valencia.
Foyth only made one brief appearance to help his nation win the World Cup.
He went on as a first-half substitute for Villarreal and ended up breaking the deadlock with a header in the 88th minute.
Vinicius Jr hits out at La Liga over racist fans
Real Madrid’s Brazilian forward Vinicius Jr has accused La Liga of continuing to do nothing about racist fans at matches after videos on social media showed fans shouting abuse and throwing objects at him away at Real Valladolid on Friday night.
La Liga issued a statement condemning all forms of hate speech and saying it was following up on instances of racism at the match.
Vinicius appeared to be subjected to abuse at the Jose Zorrilla stadium in Valladolid as he walked past fans after being substituted in Real Madrid’s 2-0 win.
“Racists continue to go to stadiums and watch the biggest club in the world up close and LaLiga continues to do nothing,” Vinicius wrote on Twitter.
“I will continue with my head held high and celebrating my victories and those of Madrid.”
In September Atletico Madrid fans were filmed directing racist chants at the 22-year-old outside their Wanda Metropolitano Stadium ahead of a match against Real.
The league said in a statement that it was looking into the events of Friday’s match.
“LaLiga has detected racist insults from the stands of the Zorrilla stadium, published on social networks,” the Spanish top-flight league said.
“These facts will be reported to the Anti-Violence Commission and the Public Prosecutor’s Office for hate crimes, as has been done on other occasions,” it said.
The league detailed how it had addressed incidents of racist abuse towards players in the past and said it will continue to fight against “the scourge of violence, racism, xenophobia and intolerance in sport”.