Real come from behind to go top
Substitute Rafael van der Vaart scored a late winner against Sevilla as Real Madrid took advantage of 10-man Barcelona's draw 2-2 at Almeria to return to the Primera Division summit.
Lionel Messi twice scored equalisers for Barcelona in a match blighted by some curious refereeing decisions - the first of which saw the kick-off delayed for 15 minutes as official Carlos Clos Gomez took exception to the hosts' shirts, which carried a message of support for the victims of last weekend's earthquake in Chile. League officials approved the message and, once the match finally kicked off, Domingo Cisma headed Almeria ahead after beating Carles Puyol to a corner.
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola was sent to the stands for protesting after Messi was denied a penalty, but the balance was redressed when the Argentinian curled home a free-kick harshly awarded for a foul on Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Puyol put through his own goal and Ibrahimovic was sent off for lashing out at Cisma, whose theatrical reaction appeared to influence the decision, but Messi had the final word with a close-range finish.
Real trailed 2-0 against Sevilla as Xabi Alonso turned Diego Capel's cross into his own goal and Iker Casillas allowed Ivica Dragutinovic's free-kick to drift straight in. But Cristiano Ronaldo pulled a goal back, Sergio Ramos headed the equaliser and, after Madrid had thrice been denied by the woodwork, Van der Vaart bundled in a scrappy close-range goal to settle the match in injury-time.
In the day's other game, Deportivo La Coruna boosted their hopes of a return to European competition with a comfortable 3-1 win over relegation-threatened Tenerife. Miguel Angel Lotina's side had to come from behind to win the points, though, as Juanlu Hens gave the Canary Islanders a shock lead after 17 minutes.
Juan Rodriguez levelled with a header shortly after the half-hour mark and second-half strikes from Andres Guardado and Diego Colotto ensured all three points for the Galicians, who move provisionally into fifth place.