Real Madrid and Barcelona will head into next weekend's El Clasico separated by four points after the title rivals both came from behind to win on Saturday.
Current leaders Real left it late to overcome struggling Sporting Gijon at home before Barcelona recorded a controversial success at Levante a couple of hours later.
Cristiano Ronaldo was on target again as Real beat second-bottom Sporting 3-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu to post a 27th win from 33 Primera Liga games this season.
Sporting took the lead on the half-hour when Miguel De las Cuevas confidently stepped up and sent his penalty down the middle of the goal after Sergio Ramos was penalised for handball.
Tensions then flared on the sidelines as Jose Mourinho squared up to one of the Sporting substitutes after they released an extra ball on to the pitch and the Real coach was no happier moments later as Roberto Canella was extremely fortunate not to see a second yellow card for a foul on Alvaro Arbeloa.
Real were level eight minutes before the break though as Canella let Ramos' cross float over his head and Gonzalo Higuain stole in to head home his 21st league goal of the season.
Nuri Sahin had been handed a rare start in the absence of the suspended Xabi Alonso and nearly handed the hosts a half-time lead as his free-kick clipped the top of the bar on 44 minutes.
Ronaldo pulled an effort just wide from outside the area and the natives were beginning to get restless when Higuain missed a glorious chance to make it 2-1 with 20 minutes to go as he fired narrowly wide from Ronaldo's cute reverse pass.
However they only had to wait a further four minutes as Angel Di Maria's cross from the left was met with a fine header from Ronaldo and, despite Pablo's best efforts, the ball went in off the post.
The visitors' Canella was dismissed with 11 minutes remaining for a late challenge on Di Maria and it took Real just three minutes to make their man advantage count as Mesut Ozil's through ball found Karim Benzema free inside the area and his shot across Pablo gave the keeper no chance.
Barcelona responded later in the evening by overturning a half-time deficit to win 2-1 at Levante thanks to a Lionel Messi brace.
Levante took the lead midway through the first half through Jose Barkero's penalty after Sergio Busquets had been penalised for handball.
Messi drew Barca level with his 40th Primera Liga goal of the season by curling home from the edge of the box on 64 minutes following an exchange of passes.
It was the 10th game in a row in which the Argentine ace had scored and he then steered home a 72nd minute penalty after Pedro Botelho was adjudged to have bundled over Isaac Cuenca.