Published: 09:55, February 19, 2024 | Updated: 11:57, February 19, 2024
LaLiga: Real Madrid drop points, Barca and Atletico win
By Reuters

Real Madrid's Luka Modric (center) challenges for the ball with Rayo's Alvaro Garcia during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Rayo Vallecano and Real Madrid at the Vallecas stadium in Madrid, Spain, on Feb 18, 2024. (PHOTO / AP)

MADRID - Real Madrid dropped two points in the race for the La Liga title on Sunday, being held to a 1-1 draw away to Rayo Vallecano.

The draw lifts Carlo Ancelotti's team six points clear of second-placed Girona, who have a difficult game away to Athletic Bilbao on Monday night, but means they miss the chance to go eight clear and increase the pressure on their nearest rivals in the title race.

Real Madrid got off to a perfect start when Mato Joselu slid them ahead from a low Fede Valverde cross after just two minutes.

Inigo Perez was making his debut as Rayo coach, and his players responded with an impressive display, getting their reward in the 27th minute when Eduardo Camavinga was penalized for handball and Raul de Tomas leveled from the spot.

Inigo Perez was making his debut as Rayo Vallecano coach, and his players responded with an impressive display, getting their reward in the 27th minute when Eduardo Camavinga was penalized for handball and Raul de Tomas leveled from the spot

In injury time, Madrid right-back Dani Carvajal was sent off after receiving two yellow cards in two minutes, and he will miss next weekend's home game against Sevilla.

On Saturday, Robert Lewandowski scored a twice-taken 97th-minute penalty to give FC Barcelona a 2-1 win over Celta Vigo.

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Lewandowski had put Barca ahead in the 44th minute, before Iago Aspas' 200th goal for Celta leveled the score in the 46th minute.

Atletico Madrid impressed with a 5-0 win at home to Las Palmas, with forwards Marcos Llorente and Angel Correa each scoring twice.

Mikel Merino's injury-time header gave Real Sociedad a 2-1 win away to Mallorca after Antonio Sanchez had given the home side a fourth minute lead.

Real Betis and Alaves drew Sunday's final game 0-0, with the visitors frustrating Betis, who have had a poor week after losing at home in the UEFA Conference League on Thursday night to Dinamo Zagreb.

Sunday's game between second-bottom Granada and bottom side Almeria ended in a 1-1 draw, which helps neither club's aim to avoid relegation.

Real Madrid's Joselu (left) challenges for the ball with Rayo's Florian Lejeune during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Rayo Vallecano and Real Madrid at the Vallecas stadium in Madrid, Spain, on Feb 18, 2024. (PHOTO / AP)

Valencia dominated at home to Sevilla, but were unable to beat visiting keeper Orjan Nyland, who made several important saves to help his side continue to edge away from the relegation zone.

Ante Budimir scored two second-half goals as Osasuna beat Cadiz 2-0 to stretch the visitors' winless run to 21 games. Cadiz have gone five games without scoring.

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The round of matches began on Friday night with a 1-1 draw between Villarreal and Getafe.