First division - day 6

Celta could only draw 1-1 with Valencia on Thursday night to leave Barcelona heading the table at the end of the day. A victory would have seen the Gallician side return to the top spot, but Juan Sánchez surprised them with an early goal from Vicente's cross in the seventh minute. Víctor Fernández brought on French striker Maurice at half time and he levelled the scores just three minutes later with his first official goal for his new club. Celta stay fourth, with Valencia a point behind them in a group of six teams separated by one point. (04.10.01)

With twenty teams in the first division and the World Cup due at the end of May, the congested fixture list meant that clubs had to play a full round of games midweek despite the ties clashing with international matches. All in all 31 foreign players were called up by their countries, and clubs such as Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia and Real Sociedad were forced to call up junior players to make up their squads. Even so Barcelona moved to the top of the first division after defeating Mallorca 3-0. All three goals came in the first half, with two from Luis Enrique and a third from Saviola. The down side was the loss of Sergi through injury, and with Andersson due to play for Sweden at the weekend, they look like only having two fit defenders for the visit to Deportivo at the weekend. Mallorca stay in the relegation zone, and Bernd Krauss can't have much time left to turn things around. Their central defender Fernando Niño was sent off in the second half of this match.

Deportivo for their part managed to salvage a point at second placed Villarreal. The East coast team were actually leading the division again for an hour or so after Víctor gave them an early lead, but Donato made it all square from a free kick in the second half. Needless to say the players dedicated the goal to Manuel Pablo, who may miss the rest of the season after breaking his leg at the weekend. The weekend's leaders Betis also drew, 0-0 away at Athletic Bilbao, to hold on to second place. They were missing the spark of Denilson, but still managed a point against a Bilbao side who have won all their games away but have yet to record a victory at the San Mames stadium.

The surprise of the day was the 4-2 defeat of Real Madrid at Las Palmas. The home side took the lead twice in the first half through Pablo Lago and a Jorge penalty, but Madrid came back both times with goals by Munitis and then a spectacular Zidane free kick. However Munitis got himself sent off after the interval for a late tackle, and young substitute Rubén beat Casillas twice to give Las Palmas their first home victory over Real Madrid in fifteen years. The league champions drop to fourteenth, and have the worst goals against record in the league together with Espanyol, who won away 0-1 at Valladolid. With Palencia on international duty, Martín Posse came in to the side and scored the only goal of the game in the first half.

Two other games ended with single goal victories, including the match between Alavés and Málaga. This time it was Alavés who came away with the three points after a controversial penalty was awarded by referee Rodríguez Santiago for a dubious foul on Vucko in the second half. Llorens converted the spot kick to take his team back up to sixth place in the league. Osasuna recorded their third 0-1 win in a row, this time against struggling Rayo Vallecano. Gregorio Manzano took over for the first time at Rayo after Goikoetxea was sacked on Sunday, but his team were a goal down before he had even taken his seat, Armentano scoring with less than a minute on the clock. Rayo still only have one point from six games and are next to bottom, ahead of Real Sociedad on goal average.

In fact Real Sociedad were unlucky to lose this week, Zaragoza's Vellisca making it 3-2 with almost the last kick of the match. The visitors even took the lead through Tayfun early on, but Marcos Vales levelled it a few minutes later and Yordi but the Aragón side in front after the restart. Real equalised through Gabilondo and looked to be heading for a point, but once again they were reduced to ten men when Aranburu picked up a second yellow card, and then they threw it away in the last minute. Tenerife are also in trouble after failing to score for the fifth time this season and losing 2-0 to Sevilla. They were up against it from the first minute when Marioni got sent off for a crunching tackle, and a good goal from young striker Reyes and a second half penalty from Nico Olivera gave Sevilla their third win of the season. (03.10.01)

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