Barcelona’s run of 16 sucessive Liga victories came to an end with a 1-1 draw at Sporting Gijón.
David Barral gave Sporting, who began the match a point clear of the relegation zone, a 16th-minute lead after surging past Gerard Piqué and Gabriel Milito before shooting beyond Víctor Valdés.
David Villa made a prolonged spell of pressure tell for the pacesetters with ten minutes remaining, adroitly lobbing Iván Cuéllar from the corner of the penalty area.
Barcelona previously failed to win in the top flight on 3 October, when they drew 1-1 with Mallorca. The draw gives second-placed Real Madrid a chance to cut Barca’s lead to five points with a win at Espanyol on Sunday and put some life back into the title race.
Joaquín, meanwhile, doubled his Liga tally for the campaign with both of his side’s goals in a 2-1 win for Valencia at Atlético Madrid. Victory, which elevates the visitors into third, seemed unlikely when José Antonio Reyes gave Atletico a third-minute lead. Joaquín’s winner arrived four minutes from time, before Diego Godín (90) was dismissed for eighth-placed Atlético.