Bottom club Espanyol stunned leaders Barcelona with a 2-1 victory at the Camp Nou while chasing Real Madrid ran riot with a 6-1 home win over Real Betis in the Primera Liga on Saturday.
Ten-man Barca slipped to only their second defeat of the campaign and saw their lead, which stood at 12 points just over a week ago, reduced to seven.
City rivals Espanyol’s Ivan de la Pena, who once played for Barca, made the most of Seydou Keita’s first-half dismissal, scoring twice after the break in the Catalan derby.
Ivorian Yaya Toure pulled one back just past the hour but it was not enough to prevent Espanyol’s first win in 15 attempts in the league.
Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Raul helped themselves to two goals each while Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Ramos weighed in with one apiece as Real went in 6-1 up at half-time at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
Barca are on 60 points and Real have 53 while third-placed Sevilla climbed on to 44 after Jesus Navas grabbed a late winner for a 1-0 win at home to Atletico Madrid.
Villarreal are up to fourth with 41 points after a 2-1 home win over Sporting Gijon.
Barca looked nervous from the outset versus Espanyol and in a heated atmosphere Keita got his marching orders for a late challenge after 38 minutes.
De la Pena was left unmarked to head home at the back post after 50 minutes and four minutes later Victor Valdes was put under pressure with the ball at his feet and passed straight to De la Pena, who lobbed into the open net.
Toure’s fine volley after a freekick in the 62nd was the best Barca could muster in reply.
Espanyol victory was their first at Camp Nou since 1982.
At the Bernabeu Higuain rounded goalkeeper Ricardo Pereira for the opener after seven minutes, and Huntelaar bagged the second soon after when Pereira weakly pushed a cross straight to him.
The Dutchman volleyed in the third when Pereira could only palm his header on to the woodwork.
Ricardo Oliveira pulled one back for the shell-shocked visitors on the half-hour.
Defensive lapses could explain Real’s opening goals but the next three were of the highest quality.
Raul swept in Marcelo’s pass with a first-time shot from outside the area, and bettered that with a sublime chip when one-on-one with the keeper. Ramos’ diving header made it six before half-time.
“I never said the league wasn’t on,” Real coach Juande Ramos said. “Just like we had a dip in the first half of the season — due to injuries and other factors — other teams will have the same experience over a long season.”