First division - day 8
Real Sociedad maintained their three point lead at the top of the table after a 0-1 victory over Villarreal. The San Sebastian side were missing the injured Kovacevic, and in his absence his strike partner Nihat headed the only goal from López Rekarte's long cross late in the first half. The Turkish forward missed an easy chance to increase the lead after the break, but the home side almost saved a point when Palermo just failed to reach an angled shot from Aranda which was going wide. The defeat takes Benito Floro's side to the brink of the relegation zone.
Valencia are the only side to match the pace of the leaders, and they too recorded a 0-1 away victory at Espanyol. The match winner for them was Fabio Aurelio, who beat Argensó with a magnificent free kick a quarter of an hour from the end. Earlier on both Baraja and Carew had hit the woodwork for the visitors, and it was not until Tamudo and De la Peña came on in the second half that the Catalans caused any problems for Cañizares. Wins for their near rivals meant that Espanyol drop back down into the bottom three.
Jupp Heynckes was within ten minutes of losing his job at the San Mamés stadium after Athletic Bilbao trailed Celta by a single Edu goal. However his team saved the day with two late goals to record their first home win in eight months. Athletic started the day next to bottom in the table, and any further slip up would have almost certainly meant the end for the German manager. But Etxeberría drilled the ball into the net in the eightieth minute, and with the game going into injury time, Urzaiz rose to head home a corner for a victory which takes them five places up the table. Celta ended the day six points adrift of the leaders.
Betis took over Málaga's position in the UEFA spots after beating them 3-0. It was a first away defeat of the season for Peiró's side, and comes on the heels of their loss at home to Espanyol the week before. All three goals came in the second half, with Arzu starting things off after Joaquín's long free kick was charged down by the defence. Fernando got the second, following up after a shot from Casas bounced off both posts, and then made it three from the penalty spot after the referee ruled that Romero had fouled Denilson inside the area.
The on-form Racing Santander were close to claiming another top scalp after their victories against Deportivo and Real Madrid. This time their victims were Barcelona, but Van Gaal's side got away with a point thanks to a late headed goal from Fernando Navarro. Racing had taken the lead in the second minute through Javi Guerrero after Morán deflected a clearance back into the area, but only a great performance by Ceballos maintained their lead until the last gasp equaliser made it 1-1 in the end.
An injury time strike by substitute Rubén Navarro was enough to give Alavés a 1-0 win over Sevilla and take them out of the bottom three. The visitors set up a defensive wall from early on, and hardly set foot in their opponents half throughout the match. Iván Alonso went close a couple of times, but it seemed that they would be disappointed again when Pablo lined up to take a free kick. The ball was cleared to the edge of the area, but Navarro produced a spectacular high volley which left Notario stranded. Sevilla now drop below their rivals, and only avoid the drop zone thanks to a better goal average than Espanyol.
Recreativo Huelva recorded their first win of the season after defeating fellow strugglers Osasuna 0-1. Referee Megia Dávila had a large part to play in the result though, disallowing a second half Iván Rosado goal for a previous foul and then turning down an appeal for a penalty when Loren appeared to handle in the area. He then awarded a penalty to the visitors five minutes from the end when Mateo tripped Benítez on the edge of the area which Cubillo converted. Recreativo stay bottom, but they are now level with Osasuna who are only a place above them. (03.11.02)
Deportivo La Coruña and Real Madrid played out a calm 0-0 draw in a rainy Riazor stadium. Several Real Madrid players passed late fitness tests, but Raúl dropped out of the squad with gastro-enteritis and Del Bosque drafted in Solari to replace him. Deportivo were unchanged for the third game in a row, the first time that this had happened in all of Irureta's time as manager of Depor. The slippery conditions made play difficult, and although both sides created chances, keepers Juanmi and Casillas were never in serious trouble. Víctor did though hit the bar from a free kick taken from wide on the left, and Casillas tipped a volley from César round the post after the break. Del Bosque put on Morientes for Ronaldo in the second half, and the Spanish international tested Juanmi with a shot from close up. In the end though they settled for a point each, and both will finish the weekend outside of the top four, level on thirteen points.
A hat-trick from Walter Pandiani gave Mallorca a 1-3 victory at Valladolid which takes them up to second place pending Sunday's games. The home side took the lead though midway through the first half after a mix up between Olaizola and Leo Franco let in Marcos to score. However Pandiani headed an equaliser a minute later, and Leo Franco made two good saves from Aganzo before half time to keep the scores level at the break. Novo set up Pandiani for his second after the restart, and the ex Deportivo striker made it three with another header a few minutes later. It was a fifth straight win for Manzano's side, equalling the club record set by Luis Aragonés three years ago.
Talking of Luis Aragonés, he set a new league record of 320 victories as a manager after his Atlético Madrid recorded their first home win of the season, beating local rivals Rayo Vallecano 2-0. García Calvo gave them the lead in the fifth minute, shooting low past Etxeberría following Albertini's low free kick. Bolo went close for the visitors, but they were left with ten men on the half hour mark after Graff picked up a second yellow card. A few minutes later Jorge was brought down in the area by Dorado, and Fernando Torres stepped up to make it two from the penalty spot. (02.11.02)