First division - day 6
A strange weekend in the Spanish league, with non of the top eight teams winning. Real Sociedad find themselves topping the table after drawing 2-2 against Basque rivals Alavés. Astudillo gave the home side an early lead, but Nihat levelled the scores before the break. Real seemed to be heading for a win when Pablo got himself sent off for arguing before half time and then Karpin put them ahead. But even though Llorens wasted a penalty kick, ten man Alavés came back with a late equaliser when Rubén Navarro's shot bounced over the line off the bar.
Last week's leaders Celta drop to second after losing 0-1 at home to Rayo Vallecano. The visitors took the lead in the sixth minute when Bolo got ahead of the defence to meet Mora's long ball with a spectacular diving header. Celta felt they should have had a penalty when Edu was brought down in the area, and the referee ruled out a Jesuli goal in the second half. However they were reduced to ten men when McCarthy was sent off for a foul on Azkoitia, and for the fourth season in a row Rayo left the Balaidos stadium unbeaten.
Málaga moved up to third place after coming from behind to save a point at Athletic Bilbao. The Basque side had not won at home in seventh months, and Heynckes left Urzaiz out of the side and lined up with a five man defence. It looked to have worked when Ezquerro headed them into the lead from Yeste's free kick in the sixth minute. However Málaga captain Roteta got on the end of Gerardo's free kick five minutes from the end to head past Lafuente and keep up his side's fifteen game unbeaten run.
Barcelona dropped into the bottom half of the table after losing 2-1 at Valladolid. Van Gaal's side had several scoring chances in the first half but failed to take advantage, and Aganzo put the home side ahead soon after the break after a defensive mix up. Late substitute Pachón added a second only a minute after coming on to finish things off, although a ninetieth minute goal from Saviola set up a nervous last few minutes.
Betis decided to play their second game in exile at Atlético's Calderón stadium, hoping to attract a big crowd. However a rainy evening in Madrid meant that only five thousand or so turned up, and to make things worse they were beaten 0-1 by their opponents Mallorca. The only goal came from Novo with a magnificent shot from thirty metres out on the half hour mark, giving the visitors their third win in a row. Assunçao hit the bar with a free kick in the second half, but Pandiani could have increased the lead near the end.
Espanyol sensationally fired Juande Ramos only a day before their relegation battle with Recreativo Huelva after the manager had heavily criticised the board of directors. B team boss Ramón Moya took over as caretaker and guided his side to their first win of the season, thanks to two excellent goals from Roger. Both came in the second half, the first a speculative shot from two yards inside his own half which caught César off his line, and the second another long strike a quarter of an hour later. The win takes them off the bottom of the table, leaving Recre three points adrift.
Osasuna climbed out of the bottom three after defeating Sevilla 2-1. Both their goals came in the first half from John Aloisi, the first from the penalty spot after the referee ruled that David had hauled him down near to goal. Pablo Alfaro headed an equaliser from a Reyes corner five minutes later, but the Australian striker restored the lead before the break under controversial circumstances, appearing to punch the ball over the line after his first effort was blocked by Notario. Sevilla's Gallardo was sent off after picking up a second booking for arguing whilst being substituted, and his side take Osasuna's place in the relegation zone. (20.10.02)
A bad night for Champions' League teams, with all three who kicked off on Saturday night failing to win in their away fixtures. Real Madrid fell to their first defeat of the season, losing 2-0 at the hands of Racing Santander. There was controversy before the match as Munitis lined up for the home side despite a gentleman's agreement that he would not take part against the side who pay over half of his salary. However he played a vital part in the victory, scoring the second goal just after the break from a Javi Guerrero pass. Regueiro had given the Cantabrians the lead in the 40th minute after good work by Nafti. Without the injured Figo and Raúl, Madrid had no reply, and they could drop out of the top four after tomorrow's games.
Deportivo La Coruña were looking for a win to dedicate to their keeper Molina, who will be out for most of the season after being diagnosed with cancer. However they eventually lost 3-1 to Villarreal, despite taking the lead in the seventh minute when Víctor headed home a Fran free kick. The home side levelled the scores three minutes into the second half when César deflected Víctor's cross past Juanmi, and then went into the lead after their own Víctor converted a penalty when Naybet brought him down in the area. Belletti finished things off near the end. heading Calleja's cross down past the keeper, even though Villarreal were by then playing with ten men after Unai had been sent off for a foul on Luque.
Valencia at least picked up a point in the Vicente Calderón stadium in a 1-1 draw against the ever difficult Atlético Madrid. Both goals came from goalkeeping mistakes, with Baraja putting the visitors ahead after Mono Burgos failed to hold on to a corner five minutes before half time. However Cañizares dropped a long shot from Nagore after the break, leaving Javi Moreno with the easy task of forcing the ball over the line for the equaliser. Valencia move up to third, still two points behind leaders Celta and Real Sociedad who play on Sunday. (19.10.02)