First division, day 31
Real Madrid moved four points clear at the top of the table after beating Sevilla 1-3 in the Cartuja Olympic stadium. Iván Helguera gave them the lead midway through the first half after Zidane set him up, but Reyes stole the ball off a static defence to swing across a pass for Gallardo to head an equaliser before the break. Zidane restored the lead in the second half, and although local substitute Daniel Alves hit the post, Morientes finished things off with a late goal after good work by Cambiasso.
Both teams chasing Madrid for the title lost ground on the leaders after losing their respective matches. Real Sociedad were beaten 2-1 by a Barcelona side who bounced back after their Champions League defeat midweek. Saviola put Antic's side ahead after Riquelme put him through early on, and Kluivert headed a second later in the first half. Real improved after the break and Nihat finally got one back ten minutes from the end with a deflected free kick. But Barça held on, and although they stay in twelfth place, they are now only two points off the UEFA spots.
In fact seven sides are vying for that last UEFA place, including Mallorca who beat third placed Deportivo La Coruña 3-0. Eto'o put them ahead in only the third minute, and Riera made it two soon afterwards as the islanders over-ran their opponents. Before the first half ended Eto'o had hit the bar with a spectacular overhead kick and had another goal disallowed, but he did get his name on the scoresheet again after the break after Ibagaza and Pandiani combined to set him up.
Valencia moved back into the fourth Champions League spot with an easy 3-0 win over struggling Alavés. Reveillère got his first goal for the club on the half hour mark and Rufete and Aimar added two more after the break. The bad news was injuries to Albelda, Vicente and to a lesser extent Baraja, and with Puyol, Xavi and Luis García all probably pulling out of the Spanish squad as well, Iñaki Sáez may have to make some emergency call ups for the game against Ecuador.
Celta dropped out of the top four though after they were held to a dull 0-0 draw by Valladolid. This time Mido was unable to add to his tally against a resolute defence, and the best chance in fact fell to substitute Catanha near the end. Valladolid stay three points above the relegation zone.
Málaga currently occupy sixth spot after they drew 2-2 with Racing Santander. All four goals came in the second half, with Javi Guerrero taking advantage of a mistake by Contreras to give the visitors the lead, newly nationalised Dely Valdés scoring twice to turn the game around, and substitute Regueiro making it all square in the end.
Espanyol climbed further away from the bottom spots after beating Rayo Vallecano 0-3. In the absence of the injured Tamudo, Milosevic stepped in to score a goal either side of half time, and Roger made it three with a spectacular shot from inside his own half which caught Segura off his line. Rayo are six points off safety, and are now looking sure candidates for the drop.
Recreativo Huelva took another step towards safety with a crushing 5-0 win over Villarreal, and with a better head-to-head record against Osasuna they are theoretically out of the bottom three. The visitors had full backs Arruabarrena and Belletti sent off in the first half, the former after giving away a penalty which Raúl Molina converted. Viqueira scored two more after the break, the second one a shot from over 40 metres out, and Pernía and Quique Romero added two more later on for the final result. (27.04.03)
Osasuna spoilt the centenary celebrations at Atlético Madrid, beating their hosts 0-1 to take away three vital points to their fight for survival. The party had started several hours before, with fans unfurling the world's largest flag around the city and a series of other events taking place in and around the stadium. However Luis Aragonés's side appeared to be suffering from a hangover already, and missing key players they were dominated by their opponents. The only goal of the game came just before half time, third choice keeper Juanma only managing to a get a hand to Manfredini's fierce shot leaving Iván Rosado the easiest of tasks of scoring into an empty net. Even when Osasuna were reduced to ten men after Cruchaga was sent off twenty minutes from the end, Atlético could not found the way to goal, and many fans didn't stay to watch the giant fireworks display at the end.
Athletic Bilbao join the group of teams fighting for the last UEFA spot after beating Betis 3-1. All four goals came in the first half, with the Andalucians taking the lead when Fernando headed Joaquín's corner past Aranzubia. Etxeberría made it all square though when Urzaiz headed on a Javi González corner, and Urzaiz himself put the Basques in front with another header three minutes from half time. Two minutes later Ezquerro got a third when Prats could only push away Yeste's shot, taking Jupp Heynckes' side to within a point of their opponents in the table. . (26.04.03)