Barca five points behind Real after draw against Espanyol

FC Barcelona dropped five points behind Real Madrid in the Spanish La Liga following a 1-1 draw with Espanyol Sunday.

Barca could only draw away to neighbours Espanyol in a thrilling and controversial game. Against an inspired and motivated home side, Barca took the first half lead through a Cesc Fabregas header, which was their 100th goal in all competitions this season.

However, Espanyol regrouped in the second half and Barca never looked comfortable, although it appeared they would hang on for a vital win. Alvaro Vazquez scored a header five minutes from time to make it 1-1, Xinhua reported.

An exciting game still had time for more drama and Barcelona should have had a penalty in the 92nd minute following a clear handball in the Espanyol penalty area by Raul Rodriguez, but referee Turienzo Alvarez waved away Barca's desperate appeals.

Sunday's matches kicked off with Rayo Vallecano returning to win at home against Sevilla. Jose Antonio Reyes made his return for the visitors after completing his move from Atletico Madrid Thursday.

Goals from Micho and Raul Tamudo gave Rayo a 2-0 lead, before Julien Escude pulled a goal back for the visitors with half an hour remaining.

Athletic Bilbao have now gone eight years without ever winning away to Getafe, but Marcelo Bielsa's side took a point for a dull 0-0 draw in the Alfonso Perez Coliseum.

Aritz Aduriz scored a late equaliser to give Valencia a 2-2 draw away to Villarreal and ruin Jose Molina's debut as home coach. Marco Ruben and Gonzalo Rodriguez put Villarreal 2-0 up after just 17 minutes, but Sofiane Feghouli pulled one back before the break and Aduriz's goal three minutes from time assured a share of the points.

Betis chalked up their third consecutive win with a 2-0 triumph over struggling Sporting Gijon.

Roque Santa Cruz scored in the first half and Jorge Molina rounded off the scoring in the 91st minute of a game in which Sporting had to play all of the second period with a man less after Alberto Lora was sent off for getting two yellow cards.

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