Villarreal moved above Real Madrid and into the top four in La Liga after a 2-1 win over Levante on Saturday that piled more pressure on the struggling champions’ coach Zinedine Zidane.
Valencia had two players sent off as they fell to a shock 2-1 defeat at lowly Las Palmas, while Atletico Madrid gave leaders Barcelona the chance to pull 11 points clear after only drawing 1-1 with Girona.
A 26th-minute penalty from Manu Trigueros and Real youth product Denis Cheryshev’s first league goal in nearly two years saw Javier Calleja’s side, who beat Real at the Santiago Bernabeu for the first time ever last week, move up to 34 points, two ahead of Real.
Zidane’s team are fifth, level on 32 points with Sevilla, who crushed Espanyol 3-0 in a dominant display in Catalonia that gave Vincenzo Montella his first league win since arriving in Spain in late December.
The last time Real finished outside the top four was in 2000, when they placed fifth but won the Champions League — a year before coach Zidane had even signed for the club as a player.
Madrid do have two games in hand on the teams around them, though, and host Deportivo on Sunday.
Cheryshev’s tap-in, the first goal in La Liga for the injury-plagued attacker since March 2016, sealed the deal against Levante, who pulled one back with a stoppage-time penalty from Roger.
Russian international Cheryshev clattered into the post after charging down the left flank to tap home Enes Unal’s low cross, but after some time on the ground in pain, struggled on until being substituted in the 65th minute.