SEVILLE: A late header from captain Dani Carvajal secured Real Madrid a 1-1 draw at Sevilla as the LaLiga leaders battled back after David Alaba’s own goal had given the hosts the lead.

Real moved on to 25 points from 10 games, three ahead of Girona, the surprise package of the season who host bottom side Almeria on Sunday. Barcelona, third on 21 points, face Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

It was a feisty affair in Seville, as a frustrated Real were thwarted by two early disallowed efforts following contentious refereeing decisions.

Real’s players and manager Carlo Ancelotti complained to the referee repeatedly in the first half. He ruled out an early Federico Valverde strike for offside in the build-up, said he had stopped play before Jude Bellingham put the ball in the net and turned away Real’s claims that Jesus Navas had fouled Vinicius Jr. in the penalty area.

Sevilla started to fight back into the match and almost scored as Carvajal made a goalline clearance to keep out an Ivan Rakitic strike.

Defender Sergio Ramos, facing the club where he made his name for the first time since rejoining his childhood team, made a crucial goalline clearance of his own to help Sevilla keep the game level before halftime.

The second half was all about the goalkeepers, with both Kepa Arrizabalaga and Orjan Nyland making brilliant saves to keep their sides in contention.

Sevilla’s Nyland made a brilliant reflex save to deny a Rodrygo point-blank strike early on, and Real’s Kepa palmed round the post a fine Ivan Rakitic strike from range.

But Real went behind after an own goal by defender Alaba as he challenged forward Youssef En Nesyri in the 74th minute.

Carvajal levelled the score four minutes later, however, with a towering close-range header from a Toni Kroos cross.

The match became increasingly tense, with five bookings in the final minutes following a couple of scuffles.

Ancelotti, shown a yellow card for complaining, was visibly frustrated.

After saying that the referee “was right in every decision” in his press conference, the Italian admitted he was trying to avoid a suspension.

“Irony is the only way. Because if I say what I really think (about the refereeing), I’ll get a lot of games (of suspension),” Ancelotti told Real Madrid TV.

“What I like most is sitting on the Real Madrid bench, so, to avoid suspensions, I decided to not say what I think. So I use irony.

“It was competitive, difficult match. We started well, scoring two goals that were disallowed. In the second half everything evened out, because we lowered our intensity.

“The result isn’t bad, but obviously we always want to win. But a point on a stadium like this and against such a difficult opponent is good. Let’s keep moving.”