Second division - day 36
The table topping battle between the second division's two best sides Atlético Madrid and Xerez ended in a disappointing 0-0 draw. Played on a Sunday lunchtime, the match attracted a capacity 56,000 crowd, hoping to see their side move a step closer to promotion back to the first division. There was one notable absentee from the touchline however, Xerez manager Bernd Schuster having to watch from the stands as he was starting a four match ban for insulting the referee in the last game the weekend before. His side though put up a sterling performance, particularly goalkeeper Ramón who kept out the wave of red and white shirts late in the game. The Xerez defence held solid in the first half, and Luis Aragonés threw on an extra forward, Fernando Torres, at the break. Atlético got the ball in the net twice after the restart, the first from Hibic and then from Diego Alonso when Ramón's clearance hit him on the back, but both times the goals were disallowed by the referee for fouls by Alonso. Xerez were always dangerous on the counterattack though, and Pineda almost stole away the three points near the end.
Racing Santander won back third place with a 0-1 victory at Numancia. Txiki got the goal without wanting to in the twelfth minute, his soft free kick intended to find a forwards head but instead bounced past everyone and in to the net. After that they controlled the game against an ineffective side who are once again only two points off the relegation zone.
Three other games ended with one goal victories, including the match between Córdoba and Oviedo. The home side should have wrapped things up earlier on, but in the end Oli scored the winner with ten minutes to go to keep Oviedo in fifth place, three points behind Racing.
The top five open up a four point gap over the rest, and with six games to go it looks like the three promotion spots will come from their ranks. Elche moved sixth with a 1-0 victory over a poor Gimnàstic Tarragona, who drop to the bottom of the table and are now looking like strong candidates for relegation. The home side had difficulty getting the ball in the net until Meca came on with twenty minutes to go, and after going close a couple of times he finally beat Javi Ruiz with a low shot. Nàstic ended the game with ten men when Marcelo picked up a second booking.
Sporting Gijon kept up their slim chances of promotion with a 3-2 victory over Jaén. Spanish under-21 international Villa gave them the lead early on, getting ahead of Curro Montoya to poke the ball home. Rueda levelled the scores midway through the half after Sierra set him up, but Dani Borreguero restored the lead just before the break from Dorado's cross. Dorado made a third goal for Soto on the hour mark, but Jaén gave the home supporters a fright in the last minute when Bizcayzacú beat keeper Valencia. The defeat takes Jaén down into the bottom four.
Albacete are level with Sporting after drawing 1-1 with Extremadura. The home side opened the scoring in the first minute through Jesús Pereda, but could not add to their score, and Jorge Pérez equalised to give new manager Gori some hope of salvation.
Gori was one of two managerial changes this week, the other being at Badajoz, where third team coach Rodri replaced Carlos Alhinho who was sacked after a string of bad results. He didn't do much better though, losing 2-3 to a Burgos side who had only managed one goal in over sixteen hours of football before this match. It took goalkeeper Tito to open the scoring for the visitors from the penalty spot midway through the first half, and although the home side levelled the scores twice through Molist and Zafra, goals from Isailovic and Dani Pendín gave the visitors their first win since mid-January.
Burgos stay level with Salamanca, who beat Racing Ferrol 3-1. Once again their star player was Makukula, who provoked a first half penalty which Zegarra converted and then scored twice after the break to take his total for the season to twenty. Ismael equalised temporarily for the Gallicians in the second half.
The team on form though is Poli Ejido. They moved out of the relegation spots for the first time this season with a 0-1 win at Murcia. It was a bit of a struggle though, with keeper Segura saving an eighth minute penalty from Cuadrado and Murcia wasting a series of chances before Sergio Cruz got the winner near the end. The side has not looked back since Castro Santos took over earlier in the season, and they leave Murcia only a point above the bottom four. (14.04.02)
Recreativo Huelva moved back up to third place, at least for a day or so, after a last gasp 1-0 win over Eibar. Despite having not won in eight games and only scored twice during that time, the visitors came looking for a score-less draw, and they did not give their opponents much of a look at goal in the 90 minutes of normal time. The Basque side were reduced to ten men when Félix Guerrero got himself sent off for two petulant actions in a row six minutes from the end, but with the game moving into injury time it looked as if they were going to snatch a surprise victory when Cabrejo hit the bar. But then straight afterwards Galán ran on to head Gallego's free kick past the startled Almunia to give Recreativo their first win in three games and put them back in the running for promotion.
Leganés moved away from the danger zone with a late1-2 victory over struggling Levante. The home side started the day down in twentieth place, but a win would have put them level on points with their opponents. Things started well for the Valencia based side when Setvalls headed them in front from Ettien's cross with just over a quarter of an hour gone, and Salas missed a couple of opportunities to extend their lead before half time. However the Madrid team came out after the break more motivated, and they equalised three minutes after the restart from a Miguel Angel penalty. Levante threw everything forward, but it was the visitors who hit the winner five minutes from the end through Arnal, and the home side ended with ten players after Aurelio picked up a second yellow card in injury time. (13.04.02)