Second division - day 23
Two of last year's relegated sides Oviedo and Racing Santander drew 0-0 on Sunday lunchtime to keep up their fight for promotion back to the top flight. Oviedo got off to a bad start when their Russian midfielder Onopko got himself sent off for the third time this season for insulting the referee in only the third minute of the game. After that the Asturians were forced to defend, although Racing were unable to take advantage on a heavy pitch which made creative play difficult. Bodipo went close two or three times for the visitors and Txiki hit the bar in the final minutes, and Rubén wasted a good chance at the end in a rare breakaway. With nobody below them taking advantage, Racing stay in third place on 38 points, four behind Xerez. Oviedo's sixth scoreless draw of the season leaves them in sixth place, three points still behind their Cantabrian rivals.
The same score between the other relegated side Numancia and fourth placed Recreativo in Soria, a dull game with hardly a shot on goal throughout. Recreativo stay fourth a point behind Racing, with Numancia in the middle of a group of six teams on 29 points in the bottom half of the table. Burgos stay fifth, a point behind Recreativo and one above Oviedo, and they are followed by Albacete and Salamanca, who both have 24 points. They met in the Carlos Belmonte stadium, with Salamanca running out 0-1 winners thanks to a last minute goal from Tomás.
Racing Ferrol moved up to within a point of them with a 1-2 victory at Murcia. The home side took the lead from a Tito free kick in the tenth minute, but Luis César brought on Redondo at half time, and he equalised only two minutes after coming on. Another substitute Emery got the winner for them later in the half. Córdoba's third manager of the season Pepe Murcia was told that his club was already looking for a replacement for him after they were knocked out of the quarter final of the cup by second division B side Figueres midweek. They played Levante at home, and things looked bad after Setvalls scored just before the break. However goals from Juan Carlos Soría, Rafa Navarro and Alfonso in the second half gave them a 3-1 victory and saved his job for the time being.
Badajoz's good run has well and truly come to an end, and they lost at home 1-2 to Sporting Gijon. Jornet did give them an early lead, but Villa levelled before the break, and the striker got the winner from the penalty spot in the second half after Baines brought down Pablo Alvarez. Both teams are on 29 points, level with Extremadura, Numancia, Jaén and Elche, who won their first game in seven with a 1-0 victory over relegation candidates Leganés. The only goal came from Moha on the stroke of half time. Jaén lost to bottom club Poli Ejido 1-0, who recorded their third win of the season thanks to a headed goal in the seventh minute from new signing Gabriel Bordi. Ejido close up to within two points of Nàstic, who named Lobo Duarte as their new manager today, with Jaume Bonet returning to the technical staff. (20.01.02)
Atlético Madrid struggled to beat Eibar 1-0 in the Calderón stadium, but ended the day even further ahead at the top of the table, now seven points clear of the second placed side. Luis Aragonés's side didn't manage a shot on goal in the first half, and eventually went ahead thanks to a controversial penalty after Félix Guerrero was ruled to have fouled Fernando Torres. Diego Alonso converted the kick for his tenth of the season. Eibar felt they too should have had a penalty when Movilla brought down Solaun, and their manager Blas Ziarreta was sent off in the last minute after picking up two yellow cards for protesting. The Basque side lose contact with the other clubs fighting for promotion and could be eight or nine points behind the third placed team by the end of the weekend.
Second placed Xerez finally returned to their home town of Jerez de la Frontera after agreeing terms with the local council to play in the Juventud stadium, but it was not a happy home-coming as they were defeated 1-2 by Extremadura. The visitors' flamboyant new signings Pier and Kiko were in their squad for the first time, and it was Pier who opened the scoring for them only eleven minutes after kick off. Xerez equalised in the second half from their new signing Antonio De la Calle, but with Kiko on the park for the last twenty minutes the visitors came looking for a winner. Pier had a goal disallowed for a borderline offside, and then in the fifth minute of injury time Pedro José gave his side the three points heading home from close range after keeper Ramón could only parry a shot free kick from Juan Carlos Moreno.
Next to bottom club Gimnàstic Tarragona lost more ground on the teams above them after they were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Burgos. Despite the return of veteran striker Cuéllar they were unable to get past the visitors' defence, and the club could soon be looking for a replacement for caretaker manager Jaume Bonet after fans protested at the end of the match. Burgos keep up their good away record, and remain in fifth place for the time being. (19.01.02)