|Real Madrid coach Jose Mouinho looks deep in thought as his team fall behind in the Barca chase [AFP]
Real Madrid dropped points for a second successive game when they were held to a 0-0 draw after a laboured performance at Racing Santander in Spain's Primera Division on Wednesday.
Jose Mourinho's side, who are attempting to end Barcelona's three-year stranglehold on the Spanish title, won their opening two games of the season but suffered a shock 1-0 defeat at Levante on Sunday.
They again looked short of ideas and creativity at Racing's Sardinero stadium and barely threatened the home goal in a generally lacklustre display.
It could have been even worse for Real as Racing, coached by Argentine Hector Cuper, had a couple of chances to pull off an upset victory.
Real defender Alvaro Arbeloa had to be alert to prevent Ariel Nahuelpan getting a shot away in the first half and their Spain keeper Iker Casillas pulled off a brilliant diving save just after halftime when he palmed away a low drive from Oscar Serrano for a corner.
"This is two matches now without winning against opponents who to be honest do not compete with us," Casillas told Spanish television.
"It's hard to take in but we have to lift our heads and we know that the image we are projecting is not the right one and is not up to the standard of Real Madrid."
Atletico Madrid's new signing, Colombia striker Radamel Falcao, followed Sunday's hat-trick against Racing with a double in a 4-0 win at home to Sporting Gijon that put them level on seven points with Barca, Real Madrid and Real Sociedad.
Spain midfielder Santi Cazorla netted the only goal in Malaga's 1-0 win against visiting Athletic Bilbao to put them provisionally top with three wins from four matches.
Bilbao's latest failure will increase the pressure on their new coach, Argentine Marcelo Bielsa, who has yet to win a game with the Basque club this season.
Levante built on Sunday's success against Real with a 2-1 win at Rayo Vallecano, who had Pedro Botelho sent off with about 15 minutes left. Levante are level on eight points with fourth-placed Sevilla who drew at Osasuna on Tuesday.