Real Madrid missed the chance to move back level on points with rivals Atletico Madrid at the top of LaLiga after being held to a 1-1 draw at relegation-battlers Elche.
Los Blancos had come into the match on the back of six straight wins in all competitions and looked on course for another when Luka Modric headed them in front after 20 minutes.
Elche, who started the evening outside of the relegation zone only on goal difference, equalised early in the second half through a penalty from Fidel.
FT #ElcheRealMadrid 1-1
— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) December 30, 2020
Real Madrid could not get themselves back in front and are now two points behind Atletico, who earlier beat Getafe, having played two matches more.
The hosts – winless in their last eight league games, but with three draws from their last five matches – started brightly and Emiliano Rigoni forced Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois into an early save.
Real Madrid defender Marcelo saw his volley crash against the crossbar before the visitors went in front after 20 minutes.
Elche goalkeeper Edgar Badia touched a long-range effort from Marco Asensio onto the bar and Croatia midfielder Modric headed the rebound in.
The visitors thought they had been awarded a penalty in the 36th minute for handball against Victor Rodriguez.
The referee, however, reviewed the incident on the pitchside monitor and overturned his original decision as the ball had hit the Elche midfielder on the thigh.
Elche were themselves awarded a spot-kick five minutes into the second half when Dani Carvajal pulled down Antonio Barragan after a free-kick was played into the box, and Fidel converted the penalty.
The home side were lifted by their equaliser and Lucas Boye saw his shot on the turn hit the outside of a post following a break down the right from Rigoni.
Los Blancos stepped things up again heading into the closing stages as Badia had to make two smart saves to keep the scores level.
Carvajal found space inside the penalty area for a low, angled shot which Badia pushed away, before denying captain Sergio Ramos as he drilled the ball in from close range.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) December 30, 2020
Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane sent on Federico Valverde and Eden Hazard for the final 10 minutes, replacing Lucas Vasquez and Toni Kroos, as he looked to inject fresh life into the attack.
Elche, battling for points at the other end of the table, created a late chance when Boye fired just off target.
Karim Benzema’s flicked header from a cross by Modric dropped wide as Real Madrid had to settle for a draw.