More misery for Madrid sides
Depleted Real Madrid ended a disappointing week with a 0-0 draw at Sporting Gijon in La Liga on Saturday, after city rivals Atletico conceded a farcical last-minute equaliser to draw 1-1 with nine-man Real Mallorca.
Real suffered a 3-2 home Champions League defeat by AC Milan on Wednesday and champions Barcelona can open up a three-point lead at the top of the standings with a home win over Real Zaragoza on Sunday.
Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema had joined Cristiano Ronaldo and Ruud van Nistelrooy on Real's injury list at a rain-drenched Molinon, leaving Raul as the only recognised forward.
They found it tough to break down a spirited Sporting side, although goalkeeper Juan Pablo had to produce a fine save to deny Esteban Granero in the second half and Kaka sent a free kick narrowly wide.
Real had the lion's share of possession and pressed forward for a winner, Xabi Alonso flashing a drive over the bar and Raul having an effort ruled out for a Kaka handball.
Tempers began to fray as the tension mounted and Mahamadou Diarra appeared to lash out at Alberto Rivera but Sporting held on for a deserved point.
Atletico Madrid's miserable season took a turn for the worse against Real Mallorca a day after the sacking of coach Abel Resino and his replacement by Quique Sanchez Flores.
Diego Forlan missed one penalty in the first half but recovered to net another, only for teenage goalkeeper David De Gea to allow Borja Valero's tame shot to deflect in off his legs in the final minute of normal time.
Resino's assistant Santi Denia was in charge of the side and Atletico's players, now with only one win in eight matches and down in 14th, looked keen to impress the watching Sanchez Flores in the early stages at the Calderon.
Their efforts appeared to have been rewarded in the 27th minute when the referee ruled defender Josemi had handled the ball in the penalty area and showed him a second yellow card. Forlan stepped up to take the spot kick but blasted wide of the right post.
The Uruguay striker was given a second chance five minutes into the second half when Ivan Ramis handled in the area and was also shown a second yellow. Forlan sent Mallorca goalkeeper Dudu Aouate the wrong way, side-footing low into the bottom right, but Atletico were unable to press home their numerical advantage.
Midfielder Valero picked up a deep cross at the far post in the 90th minute and when De Gea tried to clear his shot from a tight angle he only managed to send the ball into his own net.
"It's not normal that Mallorca have chances with two players fewer," Denia told a news conference. He added that Sanchez Flores had a good squad to work with and he was sure the club would turn their season around.
Real lead the standings on goal difference with 19 points from eight matches, the same tally as Barca.
Sevilla were left frustrated by a stubborn Espanyol outfit as the Catalan team held out for a creditable 0-0 draw despite playing with a man less for the last half an hour.
Espanyol continued to stifled their hosts throughout but it looked as if they would pay the price when defender Nico Pareja was sent-off on the hour. But despite Sevilla dominating from the outset, Espanyol held-on and had goalkeeper Carlos Kameni to thank for a number of key saves which kept the visitors on level terms.