First division - day 16
Alavés moved two points clear at the top of the table with a 0-2 victory at Zaragoza. The last time the Vitoria based side were defending the leadership was in the 1930/1 season, and they lost that game 7-1. This time they were not going to let that happen, and Rubén Navarro put them ahead ten minutes before the break, turning in Astudillo's cross. Then three minutes after the restart Navarro got his second of the night, taking Pablo's long pass to lob over Juanmi. The match ended with the local fans booing their side for their poor performance, but they were beaten by the better side who lead the pack for the second week in a row.
Deportivo deLa Coruña beat Valencia 1-0 to move up into second place. Both sides appeared to be suffering from their midweek efforts in their respective European competitions, and the match was a lifeless affair with few goal chances. Valencia were missing several key players, including Juan Sánchez who escaped virtually unhurt from a horrendous car crash the day before, and they lined up with seven natural defenders in their side. The only goal of the game came from the penalty spot, Diego Tristán converting the kick after Ayala forced down Valerón on the edge of the area midway through the second half. Tristán is now the league's second top scorer with eight goals. Valencia drop to eighth, and they have not won away in the league for seven months.
Sixth placed Celta came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Barcelona. With Xavi left on the bench for the first time this season, the Catalans put in an unconvincing performance, but they still moved into a two goal lead shortly after the break. Gabri opened the scoring for them in the second minute, and Saviola increased the lead after the restart after appearing to handle the ball as he went in to challenge Cavallero. Víctor had left Catanha on the sidelines to make space for Jesuli and Edu, but he brought him on in the second half to lead the fightback. It was Karpin though who did the damage, floating in a cross which substitute Sergi turned in to his own net, and then setting up Edu for him to head the equaliser six minutes from the end. Barcelona move up to seventh, a place behind their opponents. Both sides ended with ten men after Andersson was stretchered off unconscious and then Karpin was shown a red card for a foul on Sergi.
Betis drop two places to fourth, behind Real Madrid on goal average, after sharing the points in a 0-0 draw at Real Sociedad. Injuries to key players left Amato as the only available first team squad striker, and Juande Ramos opted to play a defensive game hoping to score on the counterattack. As a result it was a dull match with very few attempts at goal, with a shot from wide out by Aranburu against the crossbar the only real chance in the first half. Idiakez headed wide when he should have hit the target, and the only time Alberto was troubled in the Real goal was from a Luis Fernández free kick near the end. Real Sociedad stay down in next to bottom spot and lose a bit more ground on the teams above them.
Villarreal missed out on a chance to catch up with the top teams after being held to a 1-1 draw by Espanyol. The Catalan side surprised their opponents early on, Tamudo lifting the ball past López Vallejo and running it in to the net on a breakaway in the third minute. But a mistake by visiting keeper Mora later in the half after a poor back pass by Rotchen left Calleja with the easy task of scoring in to the empty net. Mora made up for his error with good saves from Unai and Víctor amongst others, and Espanyol were lucky to get away a penalty claim when Rotchen handled in the area.
Bottom club Rayo Vallecano also drop further behind the rest after being held to a scoreless draw by Las Palmas. It was a hard game in which the visitors were not taking prisoners, picking up seven yellow cards and two reds between players and technical staff. Samways set the tone, and was lucky to get away with a yellow for an attack on Pablo Sanz. Then Angel got himself sent off for a tackle on Peragón, and assistant trainer Aparicio followed him down the tunnel for protesting. There was time for some football in between, with Sequeiros hitting the bar from the penalty spot for the visitors after Mauro had fouled Pablo Lago, and Peragón hitting the post at the other end. Rayo are four points adrift at the bottom, and Las Palmas are only two points above the drop zone in fifteenth place.
Osasuna climbed out of the bottom three with their first win in six games, a 1-0 victory against Valladolid. The home side dominated the game, but a superb performance by Ricardo in the opposite goal looked like spoiling their plans before substitute Armentano finally beat him with a low shot six minutes from the end. The Spanish international keeper had made spectacular saves from Gancedo and Aloisi in the first half and Rosado in the second, and had stopped everything thrown at him. The visitors only had a couple of attempts at goal, although they were unfortunate not to get a penalty when Tote was pushed over by Contreras in the second half. Valladolid's Mario was sent off in injury time.
Mallorca and Málaga shared the points at the San Moix stadium with a goal a piece. The match was overshadowed by a serious injury to Mallorca's defender Vicente, who snapped a knee ligament in a freak accident early on. The visitors scored first, Novo heading a corner past his own keeper, but Nadal levelled the scores a few minutes later with a coolly taken goal at the other end. The visitors thought they had scored in the second half when Canabal's header appeared to cross the line before Nadal hooked it away, but the referee ruled that it had not fully crossed the line. Both teams remain in the bottom half of the table. (9.12.01)
Real Madrid moved to the top of the first division pending Sunday's games with a 0-2 victory over Tenerife, their seventh straight win in a row. Del Bosque's unchanged side took the lead on the quarter hour mark through Iván Helguera, who picked up a through pass from Figo to beat Aragonés for his second goal in four days. Tenerife were missing several key players, with Basavilbaso and Marioni suspended and Slovak out for the rest of the season, and with Fuertes also unfit Pepe Mel had started the game with Acorán and Pier up front. At half time he brought on Xisco, and the Spanish under-21 international put some life back in to the game with a couple of near misses. However with the match coming to an end referee Mejuto González awarded a controversial penalty to the visitors after Lussenhoff and Hierro tussled in the area, and Figo rounded off a good night for Madrid placing his spot kick wide of the keeper.
Athletic Bilbao came back from behind three times to share the points with a thrilling 3-3 draw at Sevilla. All six goals came in the second half, with Moisés getting the first for the home side with a shot which took a deflection off Carlos García within four minutes of the restart. Etxeberria levelled the scores from a possible offside position, but Reyes restored the lead almost immediately. Once again Bilbao levelled, this time from Urzaiz, who headed his ninth of the season in the league, and once again Reyes put the Andalucians in front after clever work by Moisés. But then in the fourth minute of time added on Ezquerro hooked the ball in to the net to salvage a point which takes the Basque side up level with Alavés and Betis. (8.12.01)