Cristiano Ronaldo scored from the spot to earn ten-man Real Madrid a 1-1 draw against Barcelona in a highly-charged clasico but it was the Catalans who took a big step towards the title.
Although Barcelona maintained their eight-point lead at the top of La Liga with six games left, it was important for Real to avoid another thrashing - such as the 5-0 defeat at Camp Nou earlier this season - with three more clasicos in the next 17 days set to decide the destination of the Copa del Rey and who will reach the final of the Champions League.
In Saturday night's tense encounter at the Bernabeu Lionel Messi scored from the spot in the 53rd minute to give Barca the lead after Raul Albiol was sent off for a foul on David Villa in the area.
Barca looked to be cruising towards a sixth consecutive victory against their arch-rivals under coach Pep Guardiola when Dani Alves tripped Marcelo and the referee awarded another penalty, converted by Ronaldo.
The equaliser lifted Real and their Germany midfielder Sami Khedira had a great chance to win the match in the final minute but shot straight at Victor Valdes.
Sevilla's European hopes were dealt a severe blow as the Andalusians lost 1-0 at out-of-form Getafe.
Miku scored the only goal of the game when he took advantage of some poor marking by Federico Fazio to latch onto Dani Parejo's pass and beat Javi Varas.
Sevilla started the day in fifth position, eight points behind fourth-placed Villarreal, but had been making positive noises about a return to the Champions League. With only six games now left, though, such a feat seems highly unlikely for Gregorio Manzano's side.
Julio Baptista made a memorable return from injury as he bagged two goals in Malaga's impressive 3-0 victory over Real Mallorca.
Baptista had been sidelined for six weeks, but was back in the side and made an immediate impact to boost the Andalusians' survival hopes.
Sebas Fernandez gave Malaga the lead after 26 minutes and Baptista doubled the home side's advantage prior to half-time, before adding a second early in the second period to move Manuel Pellegrini's men provisionally out of the relegation zone.