First division, day 33
Real Sociedad moved up level with Deportivo at the top of the table after beating Mallorca 1-3. The Basques took the lead in the ninth minute from the penalty spot after Poli pulled down Kovacevic in the area, De Pedro converting the kick, and Karpin added a second on the half hour mark from Aranzábal's cross. Substitute Vicente hit the bar from a header, but early in the second half Kovacevic made it three heading home De Pedro's free kick. Eto'o pulled a goal back later on, but Westerveld stopped them from getting any more and the title race is once more wide open.
Celta consolidated their fourth place with a 2-2 draw against Racing, although they felt cheated of a win after Diego Alonso headed the equaliser for the visitors in the ninth minute of injury time. Catanha set up Juanfran for the opening goal ten minutes before the break, but Lotina took him off early in the second half and his replacement Jesuli almost immediately produced a stray back pass letting through Bodipo. Cavallero had to bring the striker down, getting himself sent off for his troubles, and Javi Guerrero scored from the resulting penalty. Numbers were evened up though when Coromina picked up a second booking, and Edu appeared to have won it when he was held back in the area by Moratón and converted the second penalty of the night.
It was a strange weekend, with no home wins at all in the ten games. One of the big surprises came at Valencia, where their neighbours Villarreal beat them 1-2, their first ever victory in the Mestalla stadium. Here again there were two penalties, Jorge López scoring the first after Marchena fouled Ballesteros, and the visitors went two up before the break when ex Valencia midfielder Farinós scored with a long range shot which went through the hands of Cañizares. Juan Sánchez won the second penalty of the night and converted it himself after the break, but the visitors held on for three important points.
While Barcelona's basketball team were winning the European title for the first time in their history, their football side could only manage a 0-0 draw at Sevilla. Kluivert and Luis Enrique both tested an excellent Notario either side of half time, but in the end it was their own keeper Víctor Valdés who saved them a point stopping efforts from Gallardo and Antoñito in the second half. It was the fourth scoreless draw of the weekend, and takes Barcelona up a point to seventh, one away from the UEFA spots.
Sevilla's neighbours Betis could not put an end to their bad run, and they were held to a 1-1 draw by bottom club Rayo Vallecano. Bolo put the home side in front with an early header, but Fernando equalised on the stroke of half time from Varela's cross. There was no further score after the break, leaving Betis still a point off the UEFA spots. In fact only five points separate ten teams fighting for that sixth place, and with none of the contenders winning it is wide open. (11.05.03)
Deportivo La Coruña moved to the top of the table for the first time this season after beating Málaga 0-2. The scoreline could have been much higher though as numerous opportunities fell to both sides, particularly in a lively first half. The opening goal came with less than a quarter of an hour on the clock, the forty year old Donato celebrating his return to the side with a header which took a deflection off a defender from Víctor's corner. Manu hit the post at the other end later in the half and Fernando Sanz cleared a Makaay effort off the line before the break, and both sides were ruled offside time and time again as they tried to catch their opponents on quick counter-attacks. Just when it looked like there would be no further goals, substitute Scaloni ran through to shoot past Contreras and wrap up the game for his side.
Depor move a point ahead of Real Madrid, who were held to a 0-0 draw at Recreativo Huelva. Del Bosque was missing his star attack, with Figo, Zidane, Ronaldo all injured and Raúl not quite fit yet, and Tote was surprisingly brought in for his first league appearance this year to partner Morientes up front. Neither managed to find a way through a tight Recre defence in the opening minutes though, Morientes failing to control the ball when given a half chance and Tote trying a fancy back-heel flick when a simpler shot would have been more effective. Raúl Molina had an early strike ruled out for offside, and had another shot blocked by Casillas on the stroke of half time, and Bermejo also tested the keeper either side of the break. Both sides ran out of steam in the second half, and Recre lost Molina and his substitute Xisco to injuries which could complicate their struggle to avoid relegation.
It was a low scoring day all round, with only three goals in the five games played. No less than three finished 0-0, including the tie between Athletic Bilbao and Valladolid, where the local players came out with messages of support for the suspended Gurpegui. Both sides came in to this match unbeaten in the last month or so, and either could have scored in an even ninety minutes of football. Bizzarri saved from Ezquerro in the opening minutes and Etxeberría shot into the side nettings close to half time with two players better positioned in front of goal, and Ciric headed over for the visitors a few minutes earlier. Aranzubia stood his ground well to save from Aganzo soon after the restart, and Athletic had two penalty appeals turned down in the second half.
A 0-0 draw too between Espanyol and Osasuna, which leaves both sides still unsure of first division football next season. The visitors had the better of the first half, with an active Morales causing problems for Toni. The keeper kept him out though, and saved the day late in the half tipping a Josetxo header onto the bar. Osasuna were left with ten men though after the break when Pablo García was sent off for a foul on Iván De la Peña, but Javier clemente's men were unable to take advantage and had to settle for a draw which keeps them four points clear of their opponents.
Atlético Madrid were beaten 0-1 at home by struggling Alavés, and have now lost all three of their games since their centenary celebrations began. The match was preceded by news that Luis Aragonés will be standing down next season, and the manager made six changes in an attempt to turn around their fortunes. However the visitors put up a stone wall in the first half, and neither side troubled the opposing keeper. Aranguren brought on Ilie though early in the second half, and the Romanian forward scored the only goal of the game three minutes later, running half the length of the pitch to beat Esteban. The result gives Alavés hope of survival, and with Osasuna and Recre drawing their is now a three way tie to avoid the last two relegation spots (10.05.03)