Villarreal needed a stoppage time penalty from Giuseppe Rossi to salvage a 1-1 draw at Sporting Gijon on Sunday as they lost ground on Spanish league leaders Real Madrid.
Italian international forward Rossi, 23, celebrated his 100th league appearance for Villarreal by converting a spot-kick in the dying seconds for his sixth league goal of the season to cancel out Diego Castro’s 68th minute opener.
Third-placed Villarreal extend their unbeaten league run to eight games but fall three points behind pacesetters Real Madrid and two behind Barcelona in second.
“We deserved to win when you look at the game as a whole,” said Villarreal coach Juan Carlos Garrido. “Sporting have a good coach and good players and it is never easy to win here.”
In other matches, Atletico Madrid drew 1-1 at home to strugglers Almeria on Sunday and lie down in sixth ahead of next weekend’s derby against leaders Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Argentine Sergio “Kun” Aguero put Atletico in front on 33 minutes but compatriot Pablo Piatti levelled for the visitors on the stroke of half-time.
Atletico had no response and the draw means the Europa League holders have taken four points from the last 12 in the league and lie nine points behind their next opponents Real Madrid.
Earlier on Sunday, Deportivo La Coruna finally recorded their first win of the season and did it in style with a 3-0 home victory over Espanyol at the Riazor Stadium.
Goals from Adrian Alvarez and centre-backs Alberto Lopo and Diego Colotto helped Depor move off the bottom of the table – with winless Real Zaragoza slumping to the foot of the table – with their maiden win.
Elsewhere promoted Real Sociedad moved up to ninth in the table with a 2-1 win at stuggling Malaga who lie third from bottom.
On Saturday Barcelona thrashed Sevilla 5-0 at Camp Nou to stay within a point of leaders Real Madrid and midfielder Xavi Hernandez said the consistency of Real was pushing them on.
“They (Real) are doing things very well and that stimulates us,” said Xavi. “We won?t get into a war of words with (Jose) Mourinho we want a war on the pitch.”
Real are unbeaten under coach Jose Mourinho and came from behind to win 3-1 at Hercules and retain top spot in the Spanish first division.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a late brace to make it 11 league goals for the season to top the goal-scoring charts four ahead of Barcelona?s Lionel Messi.
“I?m in great form and having a phenomenal run,” said Ronaldo. “I am scoring goals and I?m happy because we are still leading the table.”