An under-strength Barcelona side were unable to break the deadlock against bottom side Malaga, but moved 13 points clear at the top of La Liga with a 0-0 draw.
Frank Rijkaard opted to rest a number of key men, including Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho, and his strategy backfired somewhat as Barca were unable to engineer a win.
However they were unlucky to be denied an opener when Cameroon international Samuel Eto'o had a good goal disallowed in the first half.
The Barca striker swivelled to finish past Francesc Arnau but referee Julian Rodriguez Santiago blew up for handball.
Replays showed that it was Malaga defender Cesar Navas who had used his hand to deny Eto'o his 23rd of the season.
In injury time Eto'o suffered further frustration when he rattled a volley off the crossbar after Gerardo Garcia inadvertently clipped the ball into his path.
Second placed Osasuna opened the door for Real Madrid to overtake them as they fell to a 1-0 defeat at Athletic Bilbao.
Luis Prieto's goal did the damage for the home side who moved into 12th with the three points.
However in injury time drama unfolded as both teams were reduced to ten men with Osasuna losing Ludovic Delporte to two yellow cards and Ismael Urzaiz left Bilbao shortly after, being punished for violent conduct.
Real Betis secured a vital three points in their bid to avoid the drop with a superb 2-1 win at Villarreal.
The Yellow Submarines are chasing a European finish but found themselves two goals down within 23 minutes as on loan PSV Eindhoven striker Robert grabbed an early brace.
Substitute Juan Pablo Sorin gave the hosts a chance when he scored with 11 minutes to go, but Villarreal could not prevent Betis from rising to 13th in La Liga, five points clear of the drop zone.
Second placed Osasuna travel to Athletic Bilbao in the late kick-off.