Real Madrid have fallen four points behind arch-rivals Barcelona in the race for the Spanish title, after drawing 2-2 with Valencia at the Bernabeu on Saturday.
Los Ches took the lead on 19 minutes against the run of play. Full-back Jose Gaya produced a fine cross to find Spanish international forward Paco Alcacer, who poked the ball past Iker Casillas in the Real goal.
The visitors grew into the game and extended their lead on 26 minutes, as midfielder Javi Fuego headed home from Dani Parejo’s searching cross.
Manchester United loanee Javier Hernandez hit the post with a scruffy effort for the home side, before the first period came to a close with a moment of drama.
Gareth Bale was brought down in the penalty area and Cristiano Ronaldo saw his spot-kick comfortably saved by Diego Alves, before the Ballon d’Or winner proceeded to miss the target with the rebound.
Los Blancos forced their way back into the game in the early stages of the second period. James Rodriguez’s corner kick was headed home by Portuguese defender Pepe to reduce the arrears.
The side from the Spanish capital pressed for an equaliser and came close on 73 minutes, but Sergio Ramos’ powerful header was superbly saved at full stretch by Alves.
Despite Real continuing to attack, Valencia’s on-loan Manchester City striker Alvaro Negredo missed a brace of good opportunities to extend Los Ches advantage.
The visitors were made to pay for their profligacy in front on goal on 84 minutes, as Isco fired an effort into the top corner of the net from just outside the penalty area.
Despite five minutes of stoppage-time being added on, Real could not find the crucial goal they needed to claim maximum points.
The draw means that if Barcelona defeats reigning champions Atletico Madrid next weekend at the Vicente Calderon then they will be crown champions.
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