First division, day 15
Valencia held on to second spot with an exciting 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao. Vicente put Rafa Benítez's side ahead in the first half from a Curro Torres cross, but Ezquerro equalised after the break when the ball landed at his feet after Carboni tackled Etxeberría. Vicente restored the lead a quarter of an hour later, and it appeared that all the action was over as the clock ran down. But in a thrilling last five minutes, referee Daudén Ibáñez sent off Lacruz and Ayala and awarded a penalty to each side, Aranzubia saving Rufete's kick and Cañizares doing likewise from Urzaiz right at the end.
Atlético Madrid held on to fifth spot with a 2-0 win over bottom club Espanyol. Fernando Torres was the star of the match, scoring both goals and creating havoc in the visiting defence. The Spanish international opened the scoring midway through the first half and added a second from the penalty spot after Soldevilla fouled Rodrigo in the second half. Espanyol were once again unhappy about the referee, who failed to even give a free kick when Burgos tripped Tamudo early on.
Mallorca moved up to sixth spot after a 1-0 win over Valladolid, their fifth victory in a row since Luis Aragonés returned to manage the side. The only goal came from Correa a quarter of an hour in to the game, following up after Bizzarri saved from Nené. The result puts an end to the visitors' run of seven games without defeat.
Sevilla came back from two goals down to beat Zaragoza 3-2. A David own goal and a Villa penalty put the visitors two up, but Podestá made it all square with headed goals either side of half time and Antoñito won it with a goal twenty minutes from the end. Two players were sent off, Generelo just before the break and Podestá near the end.
Albacete moved out of the relegation zone to the detriment of Real Sociedad after thrashing Racing Santander 4-0. The turning point of the match came just before the break when Aranda won and converted a penalty kick and Nafti was sent off for a second bookable offence. The Manchegans scored three more after the break through Pacheco, Delporte and a Juanma own goal.
A last minute goal from Xisco Nadal saved a point for Villarreal at Real Murcia. The home side were leading through an early David Karanka headed goal, and looked set for only their second win of the season when a mix up between Pedro Lago and Juanmi let in the young substitute to score. Murcia are in next to bottom position, and manager Joaquín Peiró could be the next to go. (07.12.03)
Real Madrid held on to top spot after beating Barcelona 1-2, the first time they have won a league game in the Nou Camp in twenty years. Frank Rijkaard put out a side designed to stop their opponents rather than to attack, and they did so up until eight minutes before the break when a Roberto Carlos shot deflected into the net off Reiziger. Barça brought on Quaresma and Overmars at half time, but Ronaldo made it two in the second half with another shot which took a deflection off a defender. Kluivert headed one back from a corner though, setting up a nailbiting last few minutes.
Deportivo La Coruña recorded their first win in four matches to move back up to second pending Sunday's games. Their 1-0 win over Málaga was a hard fought affair though, and only a headed goal by Capdevila from Luque's free kick made the difference between the two sides. It was the first goal scored by a Depor player in six league games, their last three coming from own goals, and the win sets them up for their forthcoming Champions League match in Holland next week.
The other two Spanish Champions League sides Real Sociedad and Celta are having problems coping with the increased workload, and both lost again on Saturday. Real Sociedad fell 0-4 to a Betis side who themselves are struggling in the league, leaving the Basques down near the relegation zone. Capi headed the Andalucians in front in the fifth minute and Joaquín added a second ten minutes later with an individualist run. And the Andalucians scored two more after the break through Juanito and Joaquín again to complete the rout.
Celta lost 3-2 to an Osasuna side who are going from strength to strength, and who consolidated their fourth position in the league with this result. The star of the match was Australia's John Aloisi who scored a goal either side of half time and set up Bakayoko for a third later on. José Ignacio pulled one back in the first half and Catanha headed a second in the dying minutes, too late to save the result. (06.12.03)