First division day 34

Deportivo La Coruña put the pressure back on Real Madrid with a bad tempered 2-1 victory over Alavés. The match, which was brought forward to Friday night to allow Alavés time to prepare for next Wednesday's UEFA cup final, started in controversy when referee Ramírez Domínguez sent off Naybet and awarded a penalty to the visitors in the fifteenth minute. Javi Moreno scored from the spot, but Deportivo tried to even things up in a first half which resembled more a diving competition than a football match. Eventually they got what they wanted, Víctor winning two penalties either side of half time which Diego Tristán converted. The game ended in a brawl as tempers snapped in the final minutes. (11.05.01)

Real Sociedad moved out of the relegation zone, at least for 24 hours, with a deserved 1-3 victory over Villarreal. López Rekarte opened the scoring in the first half with a well taken goal, but Víctor equalised two minutes later. However two goals at the start of the second half by Tayfun and Idiakez gave them the vital three points, despite playing the last 25 minutes of the game with ten men after Julio César was sent off for a second bookable offence. (12.05.01)

Real Madrid threw away a two goal lead against Espanyol, and ended the day six points ahead of Deportivo after drawing the match 2-2. Figo put them ahead with a free kick in the first half and Raúl nipped in to head a second just after half time. However Rotchen headed one back soon afterwards, and Galca levelled the scores from the penalty spot after Hierro was adjudged to have handled the ball by referee Pérez Burrull. Hierro was sent off in the incident for a second bookable offence.

Third placed Valencia slipped up against Málaga despite lining up with the side who will probably play the Champions League final in a couple of weeks time. Dely Valdés hit a hat-trick, including a spectacular overhead kick and a penalty, as his side won the game 3-0. Valencia's Ayala was sent off just before half itme for a foul on Canabal. Málaga move up to seventh, with Valencia holding on to third spot, now level on points with Mallorca, who beat Celta 2-0. Finidi returned to the side to score both goals from headers in the second half. Celta stay in sixth place, although they are now only one point ahead of Málaga in the fight for the last UEFA cup spot.

Barcelona finally found their form, beating Rayo Vallecano 5-1. Luis Enrique scored early on but Michel made it all square a few minutes later. Then caretaker manager Charly Rexach took off Kluivert at half time after he was booed by fans for saying he could join Real Madrid in the summer, and they never looked back, scoring four in an action packed second half. Rivaldo chipped an out of position Keller, then Luis Enrique, Overmars and substitute Petit added three more to take Barcelona to within three points of Valencia and Mallorca, and open up a five point gap over sixth place.

The two bottom teams both won against relegation rivals to keep open their options for survival. Numancia beat Osasuna 1-0 thanks to an early scrambled goal by Ojeda, although they stay bottom as Racing Santander also won, 2-0 against Oviedo. Magallanes scored both goals at the beginning and the end of the game, and Racing ended the game with ten men after Tais was sent off in the second half. With Real Sociedad also winning, Osasuna drop back in to the bottom three, a point ahead of Racing and three above Numancia.

Three other teams are still not safe, with Oviedo dropping to sixteenth after their defeat, only a point above Real Sociedad. Valladolid move ahead of Oviedo on goal average after picking up a valuable point at Athletic Bilbao, with Fernando equalising Felipe's early long strike on the stroke of half time. Valladolid have only won one of the last ten games though, and their players have not been paid now for several weeks. Zaragoza should be safe by now but they are not, still only two points ahead of Valladolid and Oviedo after throwing away a first half lead against Las Palmas. Orlando scored twice in the second half to cancel out Jamelli's goal and give the islanders a 2-1 victory. Jamelli got sent off right at the end when he picked up a second yellow card. (13.05.01)

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