First division - day 4
Only four games gone, and already a gap is opening up in the middle of the table, with seven of the top ten sides yet to lose a game, and five of the bottom ten yet to win. Three teams top the table on ten points, Valencia, Celta and Real Sociedad, although Betis and Real Sociedad are only just behind them with a game in hand.
The leaders at the end of the day though are Valencia, who go back top on goal average after defeating Rayo Vallecano 3-0 in the last game on Sunday night. Rafa Benítez picked a side without a recognised centre forward, although Mista filled the role to perfection, turning in Vicente's cross for the first goal ten minutes before half time. A dubious penalty decision when Mainz ran in to the back of Mista just before the break gave the league champions their second, Baraja converting the spot kick, and Angulo rounded things off, beating substitute keeper Oscar with a free kick in the last minute.
Real Sociedad go second after winning their Basque derby at Osasuna 2-3. It was an exciting match with the lead changing hands twice before Khokhlov gave Reynald Denouiex's side victory with a late header. The on-form Nihat opened the scoring with a quarter of an hour gone, but Osasuna levelled with a Puñal penalty and went ahead just after the break when Rivero took Rosado's pass to beat Westerveld. But Jauregi headed an equaliser only two minutes later, and then Khokhlov struck to send Osasuna down to the bottom four with only a point to their name.
Last week's leaders Celta fell to third after dropping the first two points of the season. They were held to a 2-2 draw by a Málaga side who have yet to lose this since returning early from the summer break to play the Intertoto cup. Musampa gave the visitors the lead with his fifth of the season, but an unnecessary hand ball by Juanma on the edge of the area gave Catanha the equaliser from the penalty spot. Berizzo connected with Jesuli's free kick to put the Gallicians ahead five minutes before the interval, but two minutes later Cáceres turned a cross from Darío Silva past his own keeper. Contreras saved a second half penalty from Mostovoi to keep his side in fifth position.
An incident packed game at the Vicente Calderón stadium, where Atlético Madrid could only draw 1-1 with bottom club Recreativo. Aragonés decided to bring Mono Burgos back in goal, but must have had mixed feelings as the eccentric keeper gave away a silly penalty on Raúl Molina and then saved José Marí's spot kick. Molina though did beat Burgos a few minutes later to take a surprise lead, although Luis García equalised before the break, a goal much protested by the Recre players as Fernando Torres had handled the ball in the play leading up to the goal. Atlético were left with ten men when Otero was red-carded before half time, but the numbers were levelled up when Galán was sent off for holding back Torres in the penalty area five minutes from the end. César saved the young striker's spot kick though to give the newly promoted side their first point of the season.
Mallorca also got their first points of the season with a 0-2 victory against Athletic Bilbao. Heynckes' side have not won in the San Mames stadium since early March, and they went behind under controversial circumstances, Novo appearing to run the ball out of play before cutting back in and setting up Robles to score. There was no doubt though about the second goal, although it was one of Bilbao's own men who scored it, Larrainzar trying to cut out a cross from David Cortés and only succeeding in burying the ball in his own net. Athletic drop into the bottom three, and the home fans booed off their own players at the end.
Villarreal's new manager Benito Floro looked as if he was going to lead his side to their first away win in over a year, but they had to settle for a 1-1 draw in the end at Racing Santander. The visitors suffered in the beginning though, with Juanma and Pablo Lago both hitting the woodwork before a long shot from Senna took a wicked deflection off Pineda to beat Ceballos. Racing got their just rewards though when young defender Moratón headed an equalising goal from a Sietes free kick five minutes from the end.
Espanyol's poor form continued, but they did at least manage to pick up their first point of the season in a dull 0-0 draw at home to Sevilla. The only real shots at goal came from Tamudo, one in each half, and in the end both sides settled for the draw. Espanyol stay next to bottom, level with Recre, Athletic and Osasuna on one point, and with only one goal to their account in four games. (29.09.02)
A last minute goal by Capdevila gave Deportivo a 1-2 victory at Alavés. Missing the inspiration of the injured Valerón, Irureta's side appeared to be heading for their second defeat in a row after Iván Alonso headed the locals in front early in the second half. However the introduction of Diego Tristán changed things around, and the Spanish international striker levelled the scores with a well placed header from a free kick twenty minutes from the end. Tristán hit the bar with a header near the end, and then in the last minute Capdevila scrambled home the winner after Luque had again hit the crossbar following a short free kick. Depor join leaders Celta on nine points pending tomorrow's games.
Betis put in another majestic performance to defeat a tired Barcelona by 3-0. The match was switched to Recreativo's Colombino stadium after the Sevilla based side's ground was closed for disciplinary reasons, but a big following turned up to see Alfonso take revenge on his old club with a penalty midway through the first half after Víctor brought down Capi. The best was to come after the break though, with two spectacular goals from the Andalucians. First of all Joaquín turned De Boer inside out before shooting wide of the keeper, and then an electrifying run by Varela left five defenders trailing before he scored the third.
High flying Real Madrid were held to a 1-1 draw by Valladolid after playing over the half the game with ten men. Michel Salgado picked up two yellow cards in just over a minute late in the first half, but even so Raúl put the visitors in front after Zidane put him through on the stroke of half time. Valladolid came back after the break though when the referee ruled that Hierro had brought down Fernando Sales in the penalty area, Nico Olivera celebrating his first start for his new side tucking away the resulting spot kick. (28.09.02)