Second division - day 39
Atlético Madrid moved very close to being proclaimed second division champions and at the same time scuppered Oviedo's hopes of promotion with a 2-3 victory in the Nuevo Carlos Tartiere stadium on Sunday lunchtime. It was a bitter disappointment for the Asturians, who for once came out attacking right from the start only to find Mono Burgos in the best form he has shown all season. Atlético took the lead in the seventh minute, Correa heading home Stankovic's free kick, but Tomic made it all square by the break when he scrambled home a cross from Rubén Reyes. Jaime hit the bar and Burgos made three or four great saves before Nadj got his marching orders for the home side for a second bookable offence five minutes from the end. The visitors immediately made the most of their numerical advantage, Diego Alonso getting his twentieth of the season to draw level with Makukula as the second division's Pichichi, and then Correa. Adding his second of the night. Geni pulled one back from the penalty spot in injury time after Amaya handled in the area, but Oviedo stay five points away from the promotion spots, and are even in danger of dropping a division if they cannot find the funds to pay back wages by the end of next month.
Recreativo Huelva moved up to third place, ahead of Xerez on goal difference, after winning 0-1 at Levante. It was an important game for both sides, with Levante also needing the points to avoid relegation, and the match got off to a tense start. Four minutes before the interval though the home side were reduced to ten men whrn Aurelio was sent off for a foul on Raúl Molina, and the visitors took advantage of their numerical superiority for Cheli to bundle the ball in to the net soon after the restart. After that Recre did what they are good at, defend their lead to take the victory and set up an interesting end to the season. The Andalucians will be hosts to Xerez the week after next, and with a five point gap now between them and fifth place the last promotion spot could be decided in that match. Levante drop back down to within a point of the bottom four, and they will now have their work cut out to survive.
Badajoz are also not safe, even though they ended the weekend in fifteenth place. They are still though only three points above the drop zone after losing 1-0 at Racing Ferrol, and they have a tricky visit to Levante in two weeks time to get through. French striker Diawara gave the home side the lead in the tenth minute, and went close to adding a second soon after the break. However only a good performance by their keeper Aizkorreta saved the day, with Marín, Molist and Xavi Moro all putting him to the test.
Ferrol are now safely ensconced in eleventh place, three points above Córdoba who also virtually assured their continuity at this level with a 0-1 win at Burgos. It was the home side's first home defeat in the second half of the season, albeit that they had only drawn their last seven games in the Plantio stadium. Although the locals were on top early on, Arzu hit the bar with a header for the visitors before Ramón headed them in front on the stroke of half time. Burgos keeper Tito saved a second half penalty from Marcos after José Mari was brought down, and the Andalucians almost paid for their miss when Dani Pendín hit the bar for the home side soon afterwards. (05.05.02)
Racing Santander are now closer to returning to the top flight at the first attempt, despite a 0-0 draw with Elche. This was the visitors' last realistic chance to make it into the top three, and they came out determined to get the three points. However the Cantabrians came closer to scoring in the first half, with Diego Mateo having a goal disallowed for a previous foul and Valerio saving well from Javi Guerrero, who was being watched by Celta and others. Elche did get a couple of chances after the break as they pushed the hosts further back into their own half, with Lemmens coming out quickly to smother their best attempt by Nino, but with intermittent rain falling creative play became difficult. So in the end it was Racing who came off best, and although they are now eight points behind leaders Atlético, they open up a four point gap on third place.
The weekend was overshadowed though by violence on the terraces, with two games having to be abandoned shortly before the end due to crowd trouble. One of those was at the Juventud stadium in Jerez de la Frontera, where third placed Xerez lost their second home game in a row, this time by 0-2 to Salamanca. Schuster's side have now gone six games without a win, and their fairy tale is rapidly converting into a horror story as their promotion hopes took another dive. Although the home side played well, they fell behind when Jesule let through Zegarra for him to open the scoring with a quarter of an hour gone, and the Peruvian midfielder added a second after the interval, heading home Ismael's pass. As the game went into injury time a hail of objects rained down on the pitch, and referee Martínez Terrén called an end to proceedings early. Police had to charge a group of hooligans who were ripping up seats and smashing glass, and a stone was thrown through the window of the Salamanca team coach as they were leaving. Xerez could be out of the top three if Recreativo win on Sunday.
Even worse were the scenes though in Tarragona, where the local side Gimnastic were held to a 2-2 draw by relegation rivals Poli Ejido thanks to a goal by Bordi in the fourth minute of injury time. Only a victory would have kept the locals hopes alive of avoiding the drop, and they went in front with goals by Dani Marín and Deus in the first quarter of the game, with Raúl García equalising temporarily in between for the visitors. Cuéllar should have extended Nàstic's lead, first with a shot in the first half which was cleared off the line by a defender with the keeper out of his goal, and then with a second half penalty which Segura saved. Ejido hit the woodwork twice as they came forward after the break, and tempers frayed as referee Clos Gómez gave some decisions which the home side didn't like, including the sending off of Marcelo for a second bookable offence and then manager Lobo Diarte for protesting. When he allowed Bordi's questionable goal to stand at the end all hell let loose, and the match was abandoned two minutes earlier as the crowd invaded the pitch. Ejido's Arturo had to have six stitches put in a head wound caused by a flying object, and the referee reported that both he and his assistants had been kicked by local idiots as they were leaving the pitch. Nàstic are likely to face a big fine and ground closure, which will probably have to served out in the second division B. Ejido's point could keep them up.
Jaén meanwhile were keeping their hopes of staying up alive with a 1-0 victory over Albacete. With the visitors having virtually nothing to play for they allowed the home side to dominate the game, and the Andalucians hit the woodwork twice either side of half time, the first a Marcos header against the bar and then a Diego Ribera shot against the post. And then with ten minutes to go Marcos sent the local fans wild when he headed home Sierra's cross which keeper Cano misread. Jaén move off the bottom spot above Nàstic.
Extremadura's days in the second division appear to be numbered though when they lost 0-2 at home to Murcia. The two teams started the day level on points, with the home side occupying the last relegation spot and Murcia just ahead of them. The turning point of the game came in the twentieth minute when Camerooni international defender Kalla brought down Loreto in the area and got himself sent off as a result. Aguilar stepped up to score from the resulting penalty to put the home side on the back foot, and when Loreto scored a second himself before the break it was all over. Numbers were evened up in the second half when ex Athletic Bilbao defender Mikel Lasa was sent off for a second bookable offence, but although Pier hit the bar near the end their efforts were of little use.
Numancia are not out of the woods though after they fell by 2-0 at Eibar. Although the Soria based side were in control early on, Eibar keeper Almunia kept out efforts from new signing Suffo. Jonathan saved well from Kortina before half time, but he could do nothing five minutes after the restart when the striker headed home a free kick from half time substitute Guerrero. With the game coming to an end Guerrero added a second on a quick counterattack to leave the visitors only two points above the bottom four.
The run of eight games without defeat by Leganés came to an end when they lost 0-2 at home to Sporting Gijon. The Asturians took the lead in the tenth minute when Chus Bravo rose above the defence to head home a corner. After that Sporting keeper Valencia was their best player, in particular with one vital save from Villa after the restart. The visitors' own Villa got the ball in the net at the other end only to see it ruled out for offside, but they extended their lead in the last minute when substitute Michel beat Raúl to put the result beyond doubt. Sporting move level with neighbours Oviedo, five points below third spot, and still have an outside chance of promotion. (04.05.02)