Second division - day 32
Second placed Xerez were well and truly thrashed, losing 4-0 to Elche. The man who did all the damage was Nino, who completed a hat-trick in the first hour of the game to take his tally for the season to 16 goals. The striker opened the scoring with a quarter of an hour gone from a Raúl Ivars pass, headed a second just before half time and made it three in the second half. Redondo got a fourth ten minutes from the end to take Elche up to eighth in the table. Xerez stay seven points behind leaders Atlético Madrid.
Racing Santander closed the gap with Xerez to three points after winning 1-2 away at Salamanca. The home side had the best of the first half, with Makukula hitting the post early on. However Morán put the Cantabrians ahead against the run of play when keeper Aizpurua went walkabout, leaving his goal unattended. Makukula equalised in the second half with a deflected shot, his seventeenth of the season, but an individualist goal by Javi Guerrero near the end gave Racing their third victory in a row to keep them in third place.
Recreativo Huelva came back from two goals down to beat Extremadura 3-2 and stay within a point of Racing in fourth place. The visitors took the lead deservedly with twenty minutes gone through Kiko, who scored his first goal for his new club after Asensio played the ball back, and five minutes later Juan Carlos Moreno laid on a second for Jesús. However Recre came back with two goals before the break, the first from Raúl Molina and the second from Antoñito, and Molina got what was to be the winning goal midway through the second half. There were a few minutes of tension in the dying minutes when Huelva keeper César was sent off for handling outside of the area, but the game ended when Extremadura were also reduced to ten men after Lolo was shown a second yellow card.
The big game of the day though was the Asturian derby between Sporting Gijon and Oviedo, which ended in a 0-0 draw. There was some crowd trouble between rival supporters before the match, but the biggest protest came when the referee disallowed a goal by Sporting's Villa for offside near the end, with the game brought to a halt as seat cushions rained down on the pitch. Keepers Valencia and Esteban were the best two men on the pitch, and Sporting's Juan got sent off after getting booked for a second time fifteen minutes from the end. This was Oviedo's seventeenth draw of the season and they stay in fifth place, three points ahead of their rivals but five now below fourth placed Recreativo.
Racing Ferrol drop a place to seventh after they were held at home to a 1-1 draw by Eibar. Barkero gave the Basque visitors the lead from the penalty spot on the half mark after Marcos brought down Guerrero, but Diawara equalised before the half time whistle after the referee played the advantage rule when Grodzic was fouled. Eibar did get the ball in the net through substitute Sukia late in the second half, but the referee ruled out the goal as the ball had gone out of play earlier.
Córdoba extended their unbeaten run to five games under new manager García Remón, and they climb up the table to ninth after beating Murcia 2-1. All three goals came in the second half, with Montenegro and Eloy putting them two ahead before Tito scored a consolation goal from a free kick two minutes from the end of the game. David Vidal's team have only taken two points now from their last four
Leganés moved further away from the bottom spots after a 2-0 victory over direct rivals Jaén. Both teams started the day on 35 points, with the visitors occupying the fourth relegation place thanks to their poorer goal average. Miguel Angel headed the Madrid based side into the lead from Darmon's cross in the first half, and Iván Pérez (brother of Barcelona's Alfonso) put the fans' minds at rest with an injury time goal, winning the ball off keeper Raúl down by the touchline and running on to score.
Numancia also pulled away from the drop zone with a 3-0 victory over Poli Ejido. Romania's Barbu headed Manu Sarabia's side into the lead five minutes in to the second half, and added a second a few minutes later from Aranda's cross after Angel Rodríguez had put a penalty kick over the bar for the visitors. Pacheta made it three in the last minute in his first game back after a three month lay off, and Ejido ended the game with ten men after Arturo picked up a second booking. The downside for Numancia was a serious injury to Barbu, who broke his leg badly in a tackle and had to be rushed off to hospital.
Ejido are level on 31 points with Nàstic and Levante, and the three are now firmly anchored to the bottom of the table, four points adrift of the rest. Levante drew 0-0 at home to Burgos on Sunday lunchtime, a result which leaves them in last place on goal average. It was a game virtually without incident, and Burgos have now gone eight games without scoring a goal, and manager Enrique Martín's job is hanging by a thread as they drop furtherinto the bottom half of the table.
Gimnastic Tarragona's chances of survival took another body blow when they were beaten 2-1 by Badajoz. It was a controversial match, with the Catalans ending the game with nine men after Méndez and then Cuéllar were shown red cards, as did their manager Lobo Diarte. Molist headed the home side into the lead in the first half and Xavi Moro added a second from the penalty spot after the break when Iban Pérez brought down Mantecón. Cuéllar pulled one back from a short indirect free kick a few minutes later. (17.03.02)
Atlético Madrid lost 2-1 away at Albacete, but still keep a healthy lead at the top of the second division. All three goals came in the last seven minutes of the first half, with Juanlu opening the scoring after Duré headed on José's corner. Basti added a second for the home side after Perera laid the ball back, but Aguilera pulled one back a minute later from Stankovic's free kick. Atlético came out looking for the equaliser in the second half but Albacete defended well, and both sides ended with ten men after Toril and Movilla were sent off for second bookable offences late in the game. The victory keeps the home side's hopes of promotion alive, and they move up to fifth pending Sunday's games. (16.03.02)