First division, day 32
Deportivo La Coruña rejoined the race for the title with a 5-0 win over Recreativo Huelva. Alcaraz's side were no match for the Gallicians, who scored four goals in a twelve minute period late in the first half. Valerón started things off with a back header from Víctor's free kick, and returned the favour a minute later to the winger for him to score the second. After that it was the Roy Makaay show, the Dutch striker scoring a hat-trick to keep up his challenge for the European "Golden Boot" award. Irureta's side move level with Real Sociedad and to within a point of leaders Real Madrid.
Valencia were beaten 2-1 by Racing Santander and are in danger of losing their Champions League spot. The man who did the damage was Bodipo, returning to the home side after a one match ban, and he scored twice in the first half to take his side away from the danger zone. The Spanish born striker controlled Javi Guerrero's cross to open the scoring in the tenth minute, and although Rufete equalised forty seconds later, he was there again later in the half to beat Cañizares and set up a vital win.
Celta drew level with Valencia on points after drawing 0-0 at Alavés, and although they have a worse goal difference than Rafa Benítez's side, their head-to-head record will take them above them in the league if they are still all square at the end of the season. Txutxi Aranguren took charge of the locals for the first time after Mané was sacked midweek, and although it was a dull match, the draw takes them to within two points of safety.
Athletic Bilbao occupy sixth spot after they trounced their local rivals Osasuna 1-5. By half time they were three goals up, Aitor Ocio opening the scoring with a long free kick and Ezquerro and Yeste adding two more later on. The home side were left with ten men after half time substitute Aloisi got himself sent off for hitting Aranzubia, and Arriaga made it four soon afterwards. Rivero headed one back, but Karanka completed the rout a quarter of an hour from the end to leave Osasuna down near the bottom.
Last week's sixth placed side Málaga dropped a position after they were held to a 0-0 draw at Villarreal. It was a game in which the few scoring chances fell to the home side, but neither really looked like beating the opposing keeper throughout the ninety minutes. The only real incident of note was the sending off of Malaga's Darío Silva for the second time this season after a high tackle on Ballesteros in the second half. The result helps Villarreal edge four points away from the bottom three, although they stay in sixteenth spot.
Barcelona moved up to eighth position, only a point away from the UEFA spots, after a 3-0 win against bottom club Rayo Vallecano. It was a flattering result though, with Rayo hitting the post with a Michel free kick and the referee turning down a penalty by Gabri on Peragón before Luis Enrique volleyed the home side into the lead in the second half. Overmars added a second a few minutes later, and Saviola made it three in injury time. Stand in boss Enric Reyna is expected to call elections for a new president in tomorrow's members meeting.
Barcelona's neighbours Espanyol saved a point in a 1-1 draw at Betis, Domoraud getting the equaliser three minutes from the end after the Andalucians had led for much of the match. Fernando had got on the end of Joaquín's cross to open the scoring in the first half, and Toni made a vital save from Joaquín before the Catalans equalised. Javier clemente's side have now gone nine games without defeat, and are four points clear of the relegation zone.
Atlético Madrid's centenary year goes from bad to worse, and they lost again this week, this time 3-1 to Valladolid. Fernando Sales put Moré's side ahead in the first half and Aganzo made it two in the second half before José Marí headed one back. However a spectacular header by Aganzo put the result beyond doubt and took the home side to within two points of their opponents in mid table. (04.05.03)
An amazing result at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, where leaders Real Madrid were thrashed 1-5 by Mallorca. Madrid's last home defeat in the league dated back to November 2000, actually against the Balearic Island side themselves, although it didn't look as if history would repeat itself when Ronaldo opened the scoring in the eleventh minute. However four goals in the first twenty-five minutes of the second half from Pandiani, Riera, Eto'o and a Roberto Carlos own goal silenced the crowd, and substitute Carlos added a fifth in injury time.
Real Sociedad moved to within a point of Madrid after they beat Sevilla 1-0. The only goal of the game came on the half hour mark from Xabi Alonso, who celebrated his first cap for Spain with a glancing header from De Pedro's cross. Nihat hit the woodwork after the break, but otherwise they struggled to hold off their opponents, who only gave up when Pablo Alfaro was sent off near the end. (03.05.03)