First division, day 35
Real Sociedad stay a point ahead of Real Madrid at the top of the table after a late 0-2 win at Málaga. It was a controversial match though, with referee González Vázquez turning down a penalty for the home side when Xabi Alonso handled in the area and then sending off Sandro after ruling that a challenge on De Pedro merited a second yellow card. With their opponents down to ten men the visitors took advantage to take the lead through substitute Gabilondo twelve minutes from the end, and Kovacevic made it two in the dying minutes in a quick counter-attack.
Barcelona moved up to seventh in the table, albeit four points off sixth placed Athletic, with a 1-3 win at Recreativo. Saviola opened the scoring shortly before the break, taking a return pass from Rochemback to beat Luque, and Kluivert got a second after the restart with a solo run from the halfway line. Riquelme came on to make it three with a low shot soon afterwards, and Joaozinho scored a last minute consolation goal for the home side with a spectacular shot from outside of the area.
Barcelona head a group of four teams level on 47 points, including Atlético Madrid, Mallorca and Sevilla. The latter two met at the San Moix stadium on Sunday evening, with the visitors running out 1-3 winners. Mallorca took the lead through Eto'o with a quarter of an hour gone, but Antoñito levelled the scores three minutes before the break and Lozano got himself sent off a couple of minutes later leaving the home side with ten men. Reyes took advantage to put his side ahead after the restart with a quick free kick and then set up Antoñito for a third goal near the end.
Betis drop out of the running for the UEFA spots after they were held to a 2-2 draw by Valladolid. Víctor Fernández's side had to come from behind twice to do so, Colsa putting the visitors ahead two times in the second half, the first with a shot from the edge of the area and the second with a header. But Filipescu made it all square once, and substitute Dani saved his side a point with a late goal after Fernando headed up a long throw. Valladolid ended with ten men after Jonathan was sent off at the end for protesting.
The relegation spots are looking clearer after this weekend's games, with a four point gap opening up between the bottom three and seventeenth placed Osasuna. Alavés were beaten 3-1 by an Espanyol side who have gone twelve games without defeat, and the Vitoria based team appear to be on the way down. Milosevic got a goal either side of half time, the second from the penalty spot, and although Llorens pulled one back, also with a penalty, Maxi put the result beyond the visitors' reach with a late headed goal. (25.05.03)
Real Madrid moved back to top spot after a 1-2 win at Valencia. Both Madrid's goals came from Ronaldo, the Brazilian striker opening the scoring with a header from Figo's cross midway through the first half and then scoring the winner after the break, again after a pass from Figo. Valencia had levelled the scores through Fabio Aurelio shortly after Ronaldo's first goal, but could do nothing to come back a second time and find themselves out of the top four once again.
Valencia's place in the Champions League spots was taken by Celta, who beat local rivals Deportivo La Coruña 3-0. All three goals came after the break, Jesuli heading the first from Juanfran's cross and Edu adding two more later on. Roy Makaay missed a last minute penalty, and Depor are now five points behind the leaders, virtually out of the running for the title.
Athletic Bilbao consolidated sixth spot with a 2-1 win over Racing Santander. Jupp Heynckes side found themselves behind two minutes in to the second half when Munitis beat Aranzubia, but Karanka levelled the scores following a corner and Urzaiz hit the winner from the penalty spot in the last minute after Ismael brought down Arriaga in the area.
A glorious return for Atlético Madrid's Fernando Torres after a six week lay off for injury, the young striker coming on at half time with his team behind and scoring twice to give them a 3-2 win over Villarreal. Calleja had put the visitors in front, and although Reina let Arruabarrena's back pass under his foot to make it all square, Josico had restored the lead before the break.
A 0-0 draw between Rayo Vallecano and Osasuna did neither side any good in their respective struggles to avoid relegation, the result leaving the home team almost mathematically down already and the visitors awaiting the results of Recreativo and Alavés on Sunday to know if the point keeps them further above the bottom three. Home fans insulted referee Daudén Ibáñez at the end after he sent off Iriney in the closing minutes. (24.05.03)