First division, day 8

The top three opened up a five point gap on the chasing pack after the teams below them failed to keep up the pace. Fourth placed Osasuna put up a spirited fight against neighbours Real Sociedad, but in the end lost by a single goal. Javier Aguirre's side started strongly and could have scored early on. But Kovacevic sent out a warning when his header was just saved by Sanzol, and a quarter of an hour from the end he connected with López Rekarte's cross to beat the keeper for the winning goal. Real move back up to sixth in the table, two points behind their opponents.

Betis moved up to fifth place with a 3-2 win over Albacete. The visitors struck first though when Mikel steered a header unmarked past Contreras with less than a quarter of an hour gone. But the Andalucians turned the scoreline around in three minutes just before the break, Tote beating Roa and then winning a penalty which Fernando converted. Joaquín set up Capi for a third soon after the restart, and although Parri pulled one back with an excellent free kick later on, Betis held on to take the three points.

Barcelona beat Mallorca 1-3 to move back up to seventh spot, just behind Real Sociedad on goal average. Frank Rijkaard left Kluivert on the bench, and the move paid off when his replacement Saviola opened the scoring after Leo Franco dropped the ball at his feet. Ronaldinho made it two midway through the first half with a curling free kick, and Cocu headed a third from Motta's cross five minutes after the restart. Aragonés made three quick changes to stop the rot, and substitute Correa got a late consolation goal near the end.

A thrilling match at the Madrigal stadium, where Villarreal came from behind three times to draw 3-3 with Sevilla. Sonny Anderson was given a place in the local starting line up and he scored twice, first of all cancelling out Casquero's early free kick and then equalising again after Reyes had put the Andalucians back in front from the penalty spot after Ballesteros fouled Darío Silva. Substitute Carlitos appeared to have given the visitors a win with a late header, but Arruabarrena scrambled a third goal in injury time to save a point.

Espanyol's season is going from bad to worse, and they lost 0-4 for the second week in a row, this time at home to Celta. Referee Daudén Ibáñez awarded a rigorous penalty against them after the ball hit Lopo's arm, which Luccin converted, and then sent off Wome after he flattened Juanfran in an off the ball incident. Milosevic made it two against his old side after the break and the Catalans were left with nine men when Lemmens was sent off after giving away another penalty on Juanfran. With all three changes made, Torricelli took over in goal, but he couldn't save Mostovoi's kick nor Jandro's late lob from midfield. Espanyol ended the weekend clear bottom on two points, but management said that team coach Javier Clemente stays for now.

Atlético Madrid got their season back on track with a 1-3 win at Real Murcia. Fernando Torres started things off with an early penalty, and Nikolaidis added a second with a powerful header, his first goal for his new club. The Greek striker hit the bar in the second half and Torres also missed an easy chance before substitute David Karanka pulled one back after good work by Michel. But Torres scored his second of the night without knowing much about it when a corner bounced in off his knee to secure the win.

Valladolid put an end to their run of three losses in a row with a 2-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao. Sousa started things off a quarter of an hour, making sure from close up after Chema's header had bounced down on (or over?) the goal line. And Makukula got the second under controversial circumstances early in the second half, referee Lizondo Cortés ruling that his header had bounced down over the line before Del Horno cleared it away. This was Athletic's first defeat in six games, and they drop out of the UEFA cup spots. (26.10.03).

Deportivo moved back to the top of the table after beating last week's leaders Valencia 2-1 on Saturday evening. Irureta's side took the lead with a hotly protested goal on the quarter hour mark, Valerón whipping the ball into the net after Víctor headed on a corner. It was the first league goal that Cañizares had let in for seven games, although the keeper and his defence were unhappy that the referee turned down their appeals for a previous foul. Either side could have scored in an entertaining game, but it was the visitors who equalised later in the second half when Mista got on the end of Albelda's cross to beat Molina. Irureta brought on reinforcements though, and it was one of the new men Diego Tristán who hit the winner from a free kick ten minutes from the end.

Real Madrid came from behind to beat Racing Santander 3-1 and move up level with Valencia in second spot. The visitors were lying a surprising fifth in the league, and they showed that it was not just by chance when Benayoun collected Morán's pass to score past Casillas early on. Zidane hit a spectacular equaliser around the half hour mark from Ronaldo's cross, but it was not until twelve minutes from the end that Raúl finally put the league champions ahead after Figo set him up. And with the game going into injury time, Raúl was there again to poke the ball home after Ricado could only push away a shot from Solari.

Málaga opened the weekend's matches with a 2-1 win over Zaragoza. Juande Ramos's side took the lead in the first half when Litos headed Duda's free kick past Lainez, and Salva made it two on the stroke of half time from the penalty spot after the referee awarded a dubious penalty when Alvaro held on to the striker. Paco Flores threw on all his fire power in the second half, but Drulic's late strike was too late to make any difference to the result. (25.10.03)

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