First division - day 27
A thrilling game at Betis, where the home side ran out 4-1 winners against Celta to move up to third in the table. Denilson opened the scoring from the penalty spot after Dani was brought down by Cáceres, and Rivas headed a second before the break when Juanito played on Denilson's free kick. Ito added a third in the second half, and after Víctor brought on Edu, Gustavo López and Catanha, Edu pulled one back for the visitors. However Celta lost their cool and ended the game with nine men after Karpin and Mostovoi were sent off, and Amato scored a fourth from the penalty spot at the end. The Gallicians drop to sixth, and will be missing four players for their next match at Real Madrid, as Cáceres and Doriva will be suspended for accumulation of yellow cards as well as their two Russian internationals.
Athletic Bilbao drop out of the top six after losing 2-0 at Valladolid. The star of the match was the home side's young striker Tote, who scored another spectacular goal in the second half. Tote won the ball in the penalty area and, holding off Larrainzar, hit a 'rabona' style ball into the goalmouth which Lacruz deflected with his forehead into his own net. Etxeberria came close to equalising soon afterwards, but the Basques did not seem to be the same team who beat Real Madrid the week before, and Fernando Sales added a second individualist goal right at the end. His side stay in ninth place, but close up to within three points of the European spots.
Sevilla stay a point behind Valladolid after a crushing 0-4 victory over Mallorca. Sergio Kresic lined up with his strongest side, including Eto'o and Ibagaza in a four man attack. However they found themselves behind in the third minute when Moisés followed up after Roa saved from Gallardo, and just after half time Nico Olivera made it two. Moisés got another goal, his thirteenth of the season, after Roa failed to hold on to Casquero's shot, and the keeper rounded off a miserable night when Casquero drove a shot right through him for the fourth a few minutes later. Mallorca drop to next to bottom, and Sergio Kresic's brief stay in the Balearic Isles may soon be coming to an end.
Espanyol kept their outside chances of European football alive with a 3-1 win over Las Palmas, taking their unbeaten run to five matches. They fell behind though early on when Soldevilla was ruled by Muñiz Fernández to have fouled Alvaro, visiting keeper Nacho González getting his third of the season from the penalty spot. The referee further upset the crowd when he booked De Lucas for diving in the penalty area soon afterwards, but Roger levelled the scores just after the interval with a long shot which Paqui headed past his own keeper. With the game appearing to be heading for a draw, half time substitute Pacheco put the home side in front with a headed goal, and Tamudo got a late third from the penalty spot.
Las Palmas have not won now in seven games, and they are only a point or two ahead of Real Sociedad and Rayo Vallecano, who drew 2-2. It took a great come back by Manzano's side to save a point though after they found themselves two goals and a man down shortly after half time. Nihat had given the home side the lead after great work by De Pedro, and after Bolic had been sent off for a non-existent head-but on Westerveld (the keeper making a meal of it), Luiz Alberto headed a second goal. However Rayo played better with ten men, and they squared the match with headed goals from Pablo Sanz and substitute Bolo. Real stay a point ahead of Rayo, who climb a place to eighteenth.
Bottom club Tenerife were under new management, Javier Clemente having taken over from Pepe Mel during the week, and they recorded their first home win since the end of November, beating Osasuna 3-1, to close the gap on the teams above them. Alexis headed them in front from Marioni's cross on the half hour mark, and Jordi came on at half time to add a second with a shot into the top corner of the net. A minute later Alexis cancelled out his earlier strike heading the ball over Julio Iglesias into his own net, but Iván Ania restored the two goal cushion in injury time to take his team level with Mallorca. This was Osasuna's first defeat in 2002.
Málaga moved away from the danger zone after beating Villarreal 2-1. Both teams started the day only five points above the bottom three, needing a win to improve their league positions. It was the home side who took the lead however, Musampa getting to the ball first after Miguel Angel crashed a shot against the crossbar. The referee turned down a penalty appeal for a foul by Unai on Darío Silva, but Málaga extended their lead after the break when Gato Romero steered the ball past López Vallejo from Sandro's lifted pass. Galca hit the bar near the end, and then finally got a consolation goal with another shot from outside of the area after a short free kick. (24.02.02)
Valencia stay at the top of the table after their sixth game without defeat, a 2-0 victory over direct championship rivals Barcelona. Rufete opened the scoring for Rafa Benítez's side with just over a quarter of an hour gone after Kily González put him through, and Aimar added the second in the second half after good work by substitute Carew. Barcelona were missing the injured Rivaldo, and with Saviola also left on the bench until the second half they hardly managed a shot at goal in the whole match. The Catalans drop down the table to fourth, and could be out of the Champions League spots after Sunday's games.
Real Madrid consolidated their second position after coming from behind to give Alavés their fifth defeat in a row. Witschge surprised Del Bosque's team in the seventh minute when he headed home Geli's cross for his first goal of the season. With Figo injured and Raúl and Helguera left in reserve, the home side were unable to respond until the stroke of half time, when Salgado set up Guti for the equaliser. However the introduction of Raúl ten minutes into the second half made the difference, and the Spanish international striker scored within three minutes of coming on. Hierro added a third (also his first of the season) from a controversial penalty after Raúl fell in the area under Geli's challenge, allowing Madrid to stay a point behind Valencia.
Deportivo La Coruña moved back above Barcelona into third spot after a narrow 1-0 victory over Zaragoza. The only goal came from Diego Tristán with twenty minutes gone, his header from Djalminha's pass leaving Láinez stranded. The second half was a dull affair though, with neither side getting a decent shot at goal, leaving Zaragoza struggling down near the bottom of the table. Depor return to winning ways at home after only taking one point from their last two appearances in the Riazor stadium. (23.02.02)