Barcelona: Ten-man Barcelona suffered their first home defeat of the season as Jordi Alba was sent off in a 3-2 loss to Valencia.
Barcelona's Lionel Messi reacts during the match against Valencia on Saturday. Pic/AFP
Few would have predicted the outcome when Alexis Sanchez gave Barca the lead in the seventh minute, but Gerardo Martino's faltering side released their early grip on the game and went behind to goals from Dani Parejo and Pablo Piatti either side of half-time.
Lionel Messi responded quickly by equalising from the penalty spot, but Paco Alcacer scored the visitors' third goal on 59 minutes and this time Barcelona had no answer.
The Catalans remained top of the Primera Division on goal difference, but this defeat handed the initiative to the two Madrid clubs in the race for the title. Real and Atletico will both go ahead of Barca should they win their games today.
It was not long before they went ahead, Sanchez sending a low cross from Messi over the head of Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves and into the net, although it looked as if the Chilean was attempting to play the ball back to a teammate in the six-yard box.