Second division - day 20

Xerez lost ground on Atlético Madrid when they were held to a 0-0 draw by Recreativo Huelva on Sunday lunchtime. Both sides created scoring opportunities, but the state of the pitch made it impossible to play good football. The best chances fell to Pineda and Mena for the home side and Raúl Molina for the visitors but the ball kept getting held up in the mud, and conditions got worse as the game wore on. Xerez ended the day four points behind the leaders, but with a seven point gap over their rivals who are still fourth, just behind Burgos on goal average.

Oviedo drop further down the table after losing 1-0 to the team lying next to bottom in the table, Gimnastic Tarragona. The only goal came in the second half from Nástic's new signing from Betis, Angel Cuéllar, who got on the end of Dani Marín's free kick to beat Esteban. It was Cuéllar's third goal since joining the club only eight days ago, and the veteran striker could have scored on two or three other occasions with a bit more luck. Oviedo fall to seventh, albeit only two points below third placed Burgos and two above Eibar, who beat Córdoba 0-2. The result brings the Andalucians back down to earth after they knocked Mallorca out of the Spanish cup midweek to reach the last eight of the competition. Cabrejo opened the scoring for the Basques from the penalty spot in the 37th minute of the first half, and Jorge Sánchez got the second in the 37th minute of the second. The match was played in a constant rainstorm which made conditions difficult throughout the 90 minutes.

Badajoz halted their recent run of three losses in a row after coming from behind to draw 2-2 with Levante. The visitors took the lead in the first half through Setvalls, and Kaiku put the Valencia based side further ahead with a coolly taken strike with fifteen minutes to go. However Tulipá pulled one back, and Bracamonte scored a spectacular goal in the last minute to save a point for the Extremadurians. They are level with Eibar and a point behind Salamanca, who drew 1-1 away at Sporting Gijon. The match was played in sub-zero temperatures, and both sides were happy at the end to share the points and return to a warm dressing room. Dani Borraguera put the Asturians in front after Villa laid the ball back, but Robert equalised on the stroke of half time. (23.12.01)

With a two week break for the festive season coming up, six matches were brought forward to Saturday evening. Leaders Atlético Madrid increased their lead at the top of the table with a 2-0 victory over third placed Racing Santander, and already have one foot in the first division. The visitors made an aggressive start, and Ismael was sent off with half an hour gone for a hard tackle on Aguilera. Fernando Torres ended the Madrid side's three game goal drought with a shot in off the bar fifteen minutes from the end, and Luque added the second in injury time to open up a five point gap over Xerez, who play Recreativo on Sunday lunchtime.

The fight for the third promotion spot is hotting up, with four teams separated by two points before this weekend's games. Burgos staked their claim on Saturday, climbing above their rivals for 24 hours at least with their sixth away win of the season. They beat struggling Murcia 1-2, who drop down to the relegation zone with this defeat. A Dani Pendín header and a shot from Iñaki gave the visitors a two goal lead at the interval, but substitute Peternac pulled one back from the penalty spot later on.

Albacete kept up their hopes of promotion with a good 2-1 win over Racing Ferrol. Dani Ruiz put the home side in front, and although Emery made it all square a few minutes later, Toril re-established the lead just before half time. Only the woodwork and a good performance by Ferrol keeper Aizkorreta stopped Albacete from extending their lead in a second half. Jaén recorded a much needed 1-3 win at Elche to take them away from the relegation spots. It was too much though for under pressure manager Francisco, who handed in his resignation after the match despite the victory. Barajas gave his side the lead, with Ramón equalising before half time for the home team. However two goals in three minutes from Zahinos and Navarro gave the Andalucian side the three points.

Numancia kept up their shaky recovery under manager Sánchez Duque with a last minute 1-0 victory over Leganés on a bitter cold night in Soria. The only goal came in injury time when Culebras scrambled the ball over the line after a corner, taking his side away from the relegation spots for the time being. Extremadura also moved out of the bottom four, pending Sunday's games, after drawing 0-0 at bottom club Poli Ejido. (22.12.01)

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