BARCELONA was given a clear path to reclaiming the Spanish league title after the leaders won and Cristiano Ronaldo missed a penalty as Real Madrid stumbled on Saturday.
Ronaldo failed to convert his spot kick and Madrid fell short in its fight back to draw, 2-2, with Valencia at home, letting Barcelona move four points clear after beating Real Sociedad, 2-0.
Neymar scored his 35th goal of the season and substitute Pedro Rodriguez netted from an acrobatic bicycle kick with five minutes left to secure Barcelona's win over David Moyes' Sociedad.
Madrid appeared set to keep pace after Gareth Bale and Ronaldo hit the woodwork early, but Paco Alcacer and Javi Fuego struck for Valencia before goalie Diego Alves smothered Ronaldo's spot kick in first-half injury time.
Pepe and Francisco "Isco" Alarcon leveled for Madrid in a frenetic second half at the Santiago Bernabeu that concluded with Valencia clinging to a draw that may cost the hosts the title.
Barcelona can dethrone Atletico Madrid with a win at its Vicente Calderon in the next round. If, and when, that match is played. The final two rounds are in doubt after the Spanish federation announced it was suspending all matches from next Saturday in protest at a proposed law regulating the sale of broadcasting rights.
After a second slip to fourth-place Valencia this season, Madrid's best chance for silverware depends on overturning its 2-1 loss against Juventus in their second-leg Champions League semifinal on Wednesday.
"It's very difficult for us now, but we have to wear these colors with pride, and try to win our games," Pepe said. "We have to pick ourselves up for Wednesday's match."
There was also drama in the fight to avoid relegation as Albert Lopo's last-gasp header to salvage Deportivo La Coruna a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao altered three teams' place at the bottom of the table.
Deportivo, Eibar and Granada, which earlier beat already-relegated Cordoba 2-0, were left tied on 31 points. But the tiebreakers meant Deportivo escaped the drop zone, while Granada was left in 18th and Eibar fell to 19th.