First division - day 15

Betis moved up to second place, just behind Alavés on goal average, with a 1-0 victory against Tenerife. It was always going to be a bad tempered affair, with the Canary Island side refusing to send anyone to sit with Lopera in the directors' box after falling out last season, and the visitors ended the game with eight men on the park, with two sent off (Basavilbaso and Marioni) and Fuertes carried off on a stretcher near the end. Under 21 international Joaquín got the only goal in the second half to send their opponents down to within a place of the relegation spots.

Zaragoza manager Txetxu Rojo returned to his home town Bilbao looking for a win against the club who fired him last season. However his side were well beaten by an on-form Athletic who rise up to fourth in the table with their 2-1 victory. The man who did the damage was striker Urzaiz, who moved to the top of the league's top scorers' chart with his seventh and eighth of the season only days after helping them through to the third round of the cup with a late strike. Urzaiz got a goal in each half, the second one of the goals of the weekend, and although Yordi pulled one back twenty minutes from time the Basque side held on comfortably to take the three points.

Celta moved back up to sixth with their second league win in a row, beating Villarreal 3-1 in the last game on Sunday. Missing the suspended Mostovoi and the injured Gustavo López, youngsters Jesuli and Edú took their opportunity to lead their side to victory. Jesuli opened the scoring in the eighth minute, his fourth goal in five games, and Edú added two more after the break in a two minute period just after Víctor Muñoz had made two substitutions for the visitors. With Palermo out for five months with a broken leg after a wall fell on him in the midweek cup match, Guayre started the match up front, and he got his first goal for his new club a few minutes later when one of the substitutes Craioveanu set him up. Celta's win means that both Barcelona and Valencia drop out of the European spots.

Bottom club Rayo Vallecano sank further into trouble after losing 3-1 to Valladolid. The Madrid based side fell behind to an early Fernando goal, and then made it more difficult for themselves when Graff was sent off ten minutes before the break after picking up two yellow cards in a minute. Fernando added his second a couple of minutes later, although Rayo did get back in the game before the break with Baljic scoring his first goal for his new club since joining from Real Madrid. The visitors kept up the pressure in the second half, so much so that Pepe Moré took off his top scorer Tote to put on an extra midfielder, but Chema finished them off beating Lopetegui with a quarter of an hour to go. Rayo have yet to win away, and are now seven points away from safety at the bottom.

Real Sociedad also stay in the relegation spots after losing 1-0 to Málaga. Miguel Angel scored the goal for the Andalucians ten minutes before the break after Litos headed on a free kick to take them momentarily at least away from the drop zone. Darío Silva returned to the Málaga side after helping Uruguay to qualify for the World Cup, but got himself sent off for a vicious tackle on Xabi Alonso midway through the second half. The angry crowd threw bottles on the pitch in protest, and the club could get a heavy fine as a result.

Las Palmas also moved away from the bottom spots for the time being with a 1-0 victory over Sevilla. The lowest crowd of the season turned up at the Insular stadium to watch Fernando Vázquez's side after their sixth straight away loss in a row had taken them down to seventeenth place. However an acrobatic goal in the second half from substitute Josico only minutes after coming on was enough to give them the much needed victory. Sevilla stay midtable, in a group of six teams separated by one point. (2.12.01)

Alavés moved to the top of the first division for the second time in their history and the first time in 71 years with a 2-0 victory over Barcelona. The Vitoria based side took the lead midway through the first half from the penalty spot when Andersson held back Rubén Navarro, with Llorens, just back in the side after a one match ban, beating Bonano with a low kick. Turiel almost made it two before the break with a shot against the post, but Ibon Begoña did beat the Argentine keeper again with a long shot from outside of the area after half time. Barcelona had no reply, even though Rexach could count on Rivaldo for this match after the case against him for punching Lacruz was suspended for another week, and they drop out of the top four having only picked up two points in their last five away games.

Last week's leaders Deportivo were beaten 1-0 by a superior Espanyol, who should have won by more in a match they dominated from start to finish. The only goal came in the second half from Tamudo, who ran on to a long Lopo pass to beat Molina. The home side felt they should have had a penalty later on when a defender handled in the area, and Martín Posse and Palencia went close. However Diego Tristán almost saved a point in the last minute with a shot which went just wide. Depor drop to second having now lost their last four away games. Espanyol's victory once again takes the pressure off manager Paco Flores as they rise back up the table.

Real Madrid moved up to third in the table pending Sunday's games with their third victory in a row, beating Osasuna 2-1 in the Santiago Bernabeu stadium. Del Bosque named an unchanged side for the third league match in a row, and once again Morientes got his name on the scoresheet first, heading home a long cross from Roberto Carlos in the thirteenth minute. Three minutes later the Spanish international striker rose above the defence to head Figo's corner goalwards, Raúl getting the last touch on the goal line to claim his second goal in a week from the same position. After that Madrid slackened off, and Aloisi, returning from international duty with Australia, headed a goal back five minutes from time. And in the last minute only a good save from Casillas stopped him from levelling the scores. He didn't though, and Osasuna stay down in the relegation spots for now.

Valencia came back from behind to scrape a point in a 1-1 draw with Mallorca in the Mestalla stadium. Luque gave the visitors the lead in the thirteenth minute, lobbing Cañizares on a breakaway, and they held on until ten minutes before the end, when two substitutes Kily González and Mista combined for the latter to turn a shot past Leo Franco. Valencia move above Barcelona, holding on to fourth spot for the time being. Both clubs play the second legs of their UEFA cup ties next Thursday. (1.12.01)

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