First division, day 29
Third placed Real Sociedad blew the title race wide open after beating leaders Real Madrid 4-2, and they move back to within three points of them. It was an extraordinary game, particularly in the first half when the goals flew thick and fast. Kovacevic opened the scoring for the home side in the third minute after Aranzábal set him up, and added a second a quarter of an hour later from De Pedro's cross. Nihat made it three soon afterwards, and although Ronaldo got one back a minute later, Xabi Alonso curled a shot past Casillas straight from the resulting kick off. The excitement continued when Zidane hit the post at the other end, and before half time Raúl headed just wide from Figo's corner. Del Bosque brought on Guti and Miñambres at the break, but after that things calmed down, and although substitute Portillo got a second goal for the visitors, they were never going to get back in the match.
Valencia held on to fourth spot after a hard fought and at times bad tempered 1-0 win against Osasuna. With Ayala and Pellegrino suspended Rafa Benítez had to put out a makeshift defence, but he was left with ten men after less than a minute when Marchena was sent off for a foul on Aloisi. Even so Mista gave his side the lead soon afterwards, getting on the end of a Juan Sánchez cross to beat Sanzol at the near post. After that Valencia sat back to defend, and although the visitors had several scoring chances, they could not get the final touch they needed. The Pamplona based side have now gone seven games without a win, and they stay just outside of the bottom three, ahead of Alavés and Recreativo on goal difference.
Kicking off before Valencia, Celta moved into the Champions League spots for a couple of hours with a 1-0 victory over Betis. It was not a great game though, and there were few scoring chances before Mostovoi got the only goal on the stroke of half time, collecting a long cross from Juanfran which the defence failed to clear and surprising Prats with an angled shot back across to the far corner. Luis Fernández hit the post and Casas had a goal disallowed as Betis came back in the second half, but when Cáceres cleared a late effort off the line it was all over. Celta stay in fifth spot, now six points clear of the sixth placed side Sevilla.
Atlético Madrid were two goals down against Espanyol with only four minutes to play, but they came back with late strikes from Hibic and Aguilera to draw 3-3 and save a point. Tamudo had put the visitors ahead from the penalty spot midway through the first half, and Lopo added a second on the hour mark. Luis Garcia pulled one back soon afterwards, but Domoraud restored the two goal cushion with a header from De la Peña's free kick and it looked as if the Catalans were heading for a much needed victory before Atlético struck.
A similar situation at Mallorca as well, where the Balearic Island side also came back from behind to draw 3-3 against Racing Santander. The first few minutes were frantic, with Bodipo scoring in the second minute for the visitors, Riera equalising a minute later and Javi Guerrero putting Piterman's side ahead again from the penalty spot four minutes after that. Bodipo headed a third before the break, but Racing defender Pablo Casar got himself sent off early in the second half, and two goals from Eto'o levelled the scores. Eto'o should have had a hat-trick near the end too, but Lemmens saved the day.
Málaga moved up to ninth place after a 1-0 win over Valladolid. It was a bad match though, and it seemed to be heading for a scoreless draw before half time substitute Canabal headed Leko's free kick down past Bizzarri for the only goal of the night. Valladolid's frustrations got the better of them after that, and first Aganzo and then Colsa got themselves sent off for second bookable offences, leaving them with nine men. They ended the weekend down in fifteenth place, only two points off the relegation spots.
Earlier in the day Recreativo Huelva extended their unbeaten run to seven games when they won 1-0 against Alavés, and they draw level with their opponents and with Osasuna on thirty points. Javi García gave Lucas Alcaraz's side the victory with a spectacular headed goal in only the third minute of the game, and they held on to move to within one point of climbing out of the bottom three for the first time since early in the season.
Rayo Vallecano kept their hopes of survival alive after they came from behind to draw 1-1 against Athletic Bilbao, although they are still three points adrift of the rest at the bottom of the table. Urzaiz looked as if he had given the Basque side a win when he scored a quarter of an hour from the end, but substitute Bolic headed home a Luis Cembranos cross five minutes from the end to save a point. (13.04.03)
Deportivo La Coruña moved to within three points of Real Madrid pending their game on Sunday after coming from behind twice to beat Barcelona 2-4. After a court ruling on Tuesday the Catalans were allowed to play in their own stadium, and they celebrated with a goal in the second minute when Saviola caught Juanmi off his line with a lob. Scaloni levelled the scores a quarter of an hour later following a free kick, but before the break Motta had restored the lead with a snap-shot from the edge of the area. The second half belonged to the Gallicians though, and within twenty minutes, two goals from Roy Makaay had turned the game around. Both sides were left with ten men when Romero and then Saviola were sent off for second bookings, and a quarter of an hour from the end Sergio made it four with a curling shot past Bonano.The fans started to leave the ground in droves, and Barcelona could end the weekend in the bottom half of the table.
Sevilla moved up into sixth spot, for 24 hours at least, after defeating Villarreal 3-1. The hero of the night was their reent signing Machlas, who came on as substitute to score his first two goals for his new club in the last ten minutes of the game. Reyes had given the Andalucians the lead in the ninth minute with an individualist goal, but midway through the first half Jorge López made it all square, cutting in from the left wing and beating Notario from an almost impossible tight angle. Guayre missed a chance to put the visitors ahead in the second half before Gallardo found Machlas with a long ball in for him to head the locals in front. Then in the last minute of the game the Greek striker was there again to finish things off on a rapid counterattack. (12.04.03)