Real Madrid carved out a scrappy 3-2 win at Recreativo Huelva to open up a five-point lead at the top of the Spanish first division as rivals Barcelona crashed to a 4-2 defeat at Atletico Madrid.
In a wildly fluctuating game, Real were stunned when Recreativo defender Martin Caceres latched onto a Carlos Martins free kick to give the hosts a dream start after 16 minutes.
However, Recreativo had only themselves to blame for allowing Real to equalise after 27 minutes.
A poor clearance by Huelva defender Iago Bouzon went straight to the feet of Royston Drenthe and the Dutch winger sent in a high ball into the area for Real captain Raul Gonzalez to head home.
It was the perfect way for Raul to celebrate going equal second, along with club legend Carlos Santillana, on the Real rankings of all-time appearances for the club.
The pair have played for the Spanish giants 643 times and only Raul's former teammate, and captain Manuel Sanchis, is ahead of him with 708 appearances.
Recreativo were then reduced to 10 men just five minutes after the break when their Portuguese international defender Beto was sent off after reacting to a Gabriel Heinze challenge, stabbing a finger in the Argentine's face.
They only stayed at a disadvantage for five minutes before Sergio Ramos, who was uncharacteristically out-of-sorts all night, got his second yellow card.
The dismissals continued when Recreativo's Quique Alvarez was shown a direct red card by referee Eduardo Iturralde Gonzalez for a wild tackle on Arjen Robben after 67 minutes.