Former Stoke and Newcastle striker Joselu scored his 14th goal of the season for Real Madrid

La Liga leaders Real Madrid dropped points in a draw at neighbours Rayo Vallecano, giving hope to Girona and Barcelona in the Spanish title race.

The visitors started sharply and led early when Joselu stretched to turn in Fede Valverde’s square pass.

But Rayo equalised through Raul de Tomas’ penalty when the video assistant referee (VAR) spotted Eduardo Camavinga had handled.

Real did not create much more and had to be content with a point.

The draw helped the 35-time La Liga champions extend their lead over second-placed Girona, who travel to Athletic Bilbao on Monday, to six points.

Real Madrid are eight points clear of arch-rivals Barcelona in third, who earned a late win at Celta Vigo on Saturday.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side have lost just once in the league this season and were without injured England midfielder Jude Bellingham for the short trip to Rayo Vallecano.

The visitors made a commanding start but could not double their lead and were punished when Rayo equalised midway through the first half.

That changed the mood and momentum at a noisy Estadio de Vallecas.

Rayo were playing under 36-year-old manager Inigo Perez for the first time, remaining organised and disciplined as they restricted Real to few opportunities.

German midfielder Toni Kroos, who appeared as a substitute after being rested, came closest to nicking a winner with a free-kick which Rayo keeper Stole Dimitrievski pushed wide.

Dani Carvajal also had a shot saved in injury time before being sent off for a second yellow card – for shrugging off an opponent after play had stopped – with seconds remaining.