Ten-man Atletico Madrid dealt a blow to Real Madrid's LaLiga title hopes when they held the defending champions to a 1-1 draw at their Santiago Bernabeu stadium on Saturday.
Real Madrid are second in the LaLiga standings on 52 points, seven behind leaders Barcelona who face lowly Almeria on Sunday and could extend their lead to 10 points with a win. Atletico are fourth on 42 points.
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"I see [winning] the league as a very difficult task. It was before today's game and now it's got even tougher," Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti told DAZN.
"Today we lacked a bit of mental freshness, more than physical. Especially when they were down to 10 men, we allowed them to score and struggled to reposition ourselves.
"In the first half we had good control but the intensity was not high. Then we didn't take advantage of the extra man we had."
The match started slowly on a freezing afternoon, with light snow falling on the Spanish capital and Real Madrid dominating play but unable to turn their numerical superiority into scoring opportunities.
Karim Benzema, Vinicius Junior and Marco Asensio were erratic up front and could not find a way to break the deadlock as Atletico held fast with a five-man defence.
Diego Simeone, who equalled Luis Aragones as the manager with the most games in the history of Atletico in all competitions (612), had to make an early substitution when left fullback Reinildo Mandava was carried off on a stretcher with a left knee injury.
The club later said in a statement that the Mozambique defender had torn a ligament while Simeone said he would miss the rest of the season.
Even after substitute Angel Correa got a straight red card in the 64th minute for an elbow to the chest of defender Antonio Ruediger, Real Madrid still struggled to create chances.
Atletico ended up opening the scoring when defender Jose Maria Gimenez scored with a header from an Antoine Griezmann free kick in the 78th minute.
Real Madrid tried to make a late run and 18-year-old forward Alvaro Rodriguez levelled the match seven minutes later with a clever header in traffic from a Luka Modric corner.
"To rescue a point is better than losing but it's not the result we needed to keep fighting for the title," Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois told DAZN. "It's a result that leaves us with a bad taste in the mouth."