Atletico Madrid squandered a chance to climb above Barcelona to the top of La Liga when they conceded a late penalty and were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Sevilla.
Earlier on Sunday, an off-colour Barca had to come from behind to rescue a point at mid-table Levante but Atletico were unable to capitalise on the champions' unexpected setback.
David Villa smashed in a loose ball to put Atletico ahead in the 18th minute at the Calderon and the home side looked to be coasting to victory until Juanfran hauled Carlos Bacca to the ground in the area in the 71st minute and Ivan Rakitic clipped home the spot-kick.
The result meant Barca and Atletico, who drew 0-0 in Madrid last weekend, are level on 51 points at the top with just over half the season played, with Barca ahead on goal difference.
Real Madrid gained further ground and sit a point behind the joint leaders thanks to Saturday's 5-0 drubbing of bottom side Real Betis in Seville.
Real and Barca, the world's two richest clubs by income, have dominated La Liga over the past decade but Atletico have emerged as genuine contenders for the title this season under Argentine coach Diego Simeone.
Athletic Bilbao can reclaim fourth spot from Villarreal with a win at home to struggling Real Valladolid on Monday.
Villarreal have 37 points after they beat visiting Almeria 2-0 on Sunday, with Bilbao on 36 and Basque rivals Real Sociedad on 33 in sixth after they let slip a two-goal lead and drew 2-2 at 10-man Getafe.
Sevilla, who had Alberto Moreno sent off in the 90th minute, have 31 points in seventh.