An Alvaro Negredo header before half-time earned 10-man Sevilla a 1-1 draw with Real Betis in a typically highly-charged La Liga derby played at a frenetic pace on Saturday.
Neither side gave an inch for the full 90 minutes in their first meeting in three years, and in the end Sevilla went away the happier after they were forced into some last-ditch defending in the second half.
Negredo saw a shot well saved by keeper Casto Espinosa after just three minutes as Sevilla aimed for a victory in their fight for a place in Europe.
Sevilla had the better of the opening stages and Betis were reduced to counter-attacking, but they still took the lead with a well struck free-kick from Benat Etxebarria after 26 minutes.
Sevilla pressed Betis back and Antonio Luna, through on goal, was denied by Casto before Negredo headed in a Jesus Navas cross after 41 minutes.
In the second half it was all Betis but they were unable to capitalise on seeing their opponents reduced to 10 men with 20 minutes left when Federico Fazio was given his second yellow card.
Espanyol moved up to fifth as they stretched their unbeaten run to five games with a 3-0 victory over struggling Granada.
The Catalan side maintained their good form since Christmas with draws against Barcelona and Sevilla before this result over a sorry Granada who suffered a third successive defeat.
Espanyol dominated possession in the early stages and after a succession of corners they finally got their reward with Jose Baena heading home a set piece at the near post.
Dani Benitez had the chance to draw Granada level but shot straight at the keeper in front of goal and then Espanyol doubled their lead with Joan Verdu slotting home from the penalty spot after Vladimir Weiss was felled by Allan Nyom.
Espanyol eased off in the second half but Granada failed to make the most of their openings while substitute Rui Fonte wrapped up the points for the home side with a close range finish with 10 minutes to go.
“Although it looked that way it wasn?t an easy match and I am very pleased with the result against a tough rival. I am happy with the number of points we have now but there are a lot of hard games ahead,” said Espanyol coach Mauricio Pochettino.
A hat-trick from Radamel Falcao helped Atletico Madrid to their first away win of the season as they beat Real Sociedad 4-0.
Coach Diego Simeone has now seen his side pick up seven points from a possible nine since his arrival at the Calderon and they now are on the fringes of the European places, behind sixth-placed Athletic Bilbao on goal difference.
Falcao put Atletico ahead after just three minutes from the penalty spot following a handball from Vadim Demidov and from there on carried a greater threat going forward.
After the break Adrian Lopez extended the lead at the second attempt after the keeper blocked his header and Sociedad never appeared capable of responding.
Falcao lobbed the keeper after spotting him off his line with eight minutes to go and then fired in his third in the final minute.
Getafe came from behind to beat Racing Santander 2-1 with Jaime Gavilan and Nicolas Miku scoring after Christian Stuani had given the home side the lead.
On Sunday, with the dust still settling on Barcelona’s victory over Real Madrid in the first leg of the King’s Cup in midweek, Pep Guardiola’s side take on Malaga looking to claw back the five-point gap at the top of the table.
Leaders Real are also in action against Athletic Bilbao.