Second division - day 29
A surprise at the top of the division, where leaders Atlético Madrid fell to only their second home defeat of the season after losing 0-1 to one of their bogey teams Sporting Gijon. Good goalkeeping by the visitors' Valencia kept them in the game in the first half, but Burgos also had to make important saves from Lozano and Villa after the break before leaving the field injured. Dani had a penalty appeal waved away and Aguilera hit a post a quarter of an hour from the end. However Hibic got himself sent off for a second yellow card with four minutes to go, and David Pirri struck the resulting free kick past the despairing Sergio. Atlético are still well on line for promotion though, and remain fourteen points ahead of the fourth placed side.
Xerez were the big winners of the day, beating Jaén 1-0 with an injury time goal from top scorer Pineda to close the gap to seven points with Atlético. Bernd Schuster's team struggled though and could have been behind if keeper Ramón had not saved from Navarro in the first half. However inspired by substitute Lardín they spent most of the second half in their opponents side of the field, and Pineda finally gave them the three points from Cubillo's corner. Slip ups by all four teams behind them mean that Xerez move seven points clear of the chasing pack. As a result Oviedo still find themselves in third place despite a poor 1-1 draw at home to bottom club Levante. The visitors surprised them with an early goal from Furiga, and although Rubén Reyes made it all square in the second half, only some great saves by Esteban won them a point.
Racing Santander lost a good opportunity to move up to the top three when they lost to namesakes Racing Ferrol. The Gallicians' new signing Grodzic scored the only goal, a brilliant solo effort just after half time, and he hit the post again in the last minute. Santander felt they should have had a penalty at the end when Regueiro was brought down by Jacob in the area, but the referee said no and their twelve match unbeaten home run came to an end. They drop a place to fifth, a point behind Oviedo and Recreativo and one above Albacete, who were well beaten by 3-1 at Córdoba. Toril did bring them level from a free kick after Manolo López opened the scoring for the home side, but goals by Platero and Montenegro late in the game finished them off.
It was a weekend of draws in the second division, with six of the eleven games ending all square. Murcia and Badajoz shared the points after their game ended 1-1, a bit of a disappointment for the home side's new manager David Vidal. His side took the lead through Pedro Largo, who headed home a corner before the break. However Jorge Zafra levelled the scores running on to Amarilla's long pass after the restart. A 1-1 result as well between Elche and Numancia, with the visitors going in front after Redondo deflected Rosu's shot past his own keeper twelve minutes from the end. It looked as if the Soria side were going to get their first win in eight games before Raúl Ivars popped up in the last minute to equalise, upsetting Numancia's new manager Manu Sarabia so much that he got himself sent off for insulting the referee. A bad start for his first game in charge.
Numancia stay in nineteenth place and lose ground on the teams above them, especially Extremadura who moved up three places after defeating Leganés 2-1. Kiko returned to the side and had a hand in setting up Jesús for an early goal, and Jorge Pérez added a second five minutes in to the second half. However the home fans had to hold their breaths at the end when Iván Pérez pulled one back in the last minute. Gimnastic Tarragona missed out on a chance to go above Numancia, but in the end they were thankful for a point in a 2-2 home draw against Salamanca. Makukula put the visitors ahead twice to make him the league's top scorer with fourteen goals, but left back Méndez hit two first time volleys from outside of the area to give Nàstic a chance of salvation. (24.02.02)
Only two games played in the second division on Saturday evening, and both finished 0-0. Burgos lost ground on the leaders after their game against Eibar finished goal-less. The visitors played an ultra-defensive game, and only a shot against the bar by Isailovic near the end could have beaten them. The Andalucian derby between Poli Ejido and Recreativo Huelva also ended scoreless, ending the home side's brief run of two wins in a row. Recreativo's keeper César returned after a one game ban and was the man of the match, taking his side temporarily at least back up to third in the table. (23.02.02)