MADRID - Real Madrid suffered a major setback to their Spanish title hopes when they slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Real Betis yesterday, handing Barcelona the opportunity to open an 11-point gap over their bitter rivals.
Jose Mourinho's side remain eight points behind leaders Barcelona, who travel to play Levante on Sunday, and five off city rivals Atletico who they host in the Madrid derby next Saturday.
Betis midfielder Benat Etxebarria's third goal of the season decided the game on Saturday.
All of his goals have been hit from outside the area, and he proved once again why Vicente del Bosque has been including him in recent Spain squads.
For Betis, the result comes on the back of a disappointing 5-1 defeat to their local rivals Sevilla last Sunday and puts them four points behind Madrid in fifth.
"I try to be fair when my team lose and not look for excuses but it's obvious that the side that plays Wednesday (in the Champions League) should not play on Saturday," said Mourinho.