Second division A - day 42
A tense night in the second division, with four teams fighting to avoid the two remaining relegation points. In the end though all four won their respective games, which means that Gimnastic Tarragona and Levante are the unlucky two who join Extremadura and Jaén in the second division B next season.
Nàstic came from behind with ten men to beat Extremadura 3-1, although results elsewhere meant it was academic. David Asensio opened the scoring for the visitors, but Ramis equalised shortly before being sent off. Cúellar scored twice though in the last three minutes to give his side the win.
Levante were safe for half an hour or so after they took the lead against Numancia through Setvalls on the stroke of half time after Kaiku set him up. Kaiku added a second himself with a quarter of an hour to go, and they held on to win 1-2 despite letting in a late goal by Alberto.
Their hopes were dashed though when Poli Ejido scored against already promoted Racing Santander around about the same time that Kaiku was getting his goal. The Poli president admitted that he had offered bonuses to the opponents of the other three teams involved in the relegation struggle, but it appeared to make little difference, and they had to do it themselves in the end. Substitute Angel got the vital goal which keeps them up.
The other team which could have gone down were Murcia. They started with a two point advantage over their opponents, playing at home against already relegated Jaén. Even so they had to win to be sure, and they left it late, scoring three goals in the last twenty minutes for a 3-0 victory. Acciari started things off from Aguilar's corner, and Loreto added two more in the last ten minutes.
Leaders Atlético Madrid had already wrapped up the title a couple of weeks ago, and they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Burgos. Diego Alonso gave them the lead with his twenty-second goal of the season, but Merino levelled the scores before the break.
Recreativo Huelva made sure of promotion last week, but they wanted to take second place. They didn't make it though after losing3-1 to Sporting Gijon, and had to make do with third. All four goals came in the last twenty minutes, with Villa scoring twice, including once from the penalty spot, and Soto getting one in between for the home side, and Epitié scoring a consolation goal near the end. Sporting ended the season in a respectable sixth place.
Xerez missed out on promotion, but at least they had some good news when manager Bernd Schuster turned down an offer from Rayo Vallecano and agreed to stay in Jerez for another season. An enthusiastic crowd turned up to cheer the side on, and they came back from a goal down to beat cash strapped Oviedo 2-1. Oscar had given the visitors the lead from the penalty spot in the first half, but Mena scored twice after the break to take his side back up to fourth, their highest ever position. .
Elche have been the best side in the division in the second half of the season, but with nothing at stake they ended their campaign with a fizzle after drawing 0-0 against Eibar. After a lively opening few minutes the game petered out to nothing, and keepers Valerio and Almunia had little to do. Elche dropped a place to fifth, behind Xerez.
Leganés were mathematically safe from relegation thanks to better head-to-head goal averages with their rivals, but just to make sure they beat Albacete 1-2 in their last game. They were behind at first though to a Basti strike, but goals from Oscar and Sivori gave them victory.
The other two games of the day ended in fairly meaningless draws. Córdoba and Racing Ferrol drew 1-1, with Pablo scoring for the visitors after the restart and Ramón getting a lvery late equaliser for the Andalucians.
Badajoz and Salamanca drew 2-2 earlier on Saturday. Again both teams were safe and had nothing to play for. Zegarra scored a second minute penalty but Zé Tó made it all square on the quarter hour mark. The second half was almost a carbon copy, with Robert restoring the lead for the visitors, and Zé Tó again levelling the scores soon afterwards. (25.05.02)