First division, day 16

Leaders Real Madrid kept up their 100% home record in the league with a 2-1 win over title rivals Deportivo. The Galicians put up a good fight though, and they could have gone ahead midway through the first half when Luque had a goal disallowed for a borderline offside. Molina made a couple of first class saves from Ronaldo and Raúl, but Ronaldo finally put Queiroz's side in front on the stroke of half time after a superb piece of play by Zidane down the left wing. Irureta made an inspired substitution in the second half, bringing on Pandiani who connected with Sergio's through ball to equalise within seconds of coming on, but Raúl won it for Madrid five minutes from the end when he rose to volley home a pinpoint pass from Roberto Carlos.

Valencia stay two points behind Madrid after a 0-1 win over Betis, the only goal of the game coming just after the quarter hour mark when Juanito put through his own net trying to clear Jorge López's free kick. The Andalucians were unable to reply against a well ordered defence, and only a couple of headers from Rivas and a second half effort from Tote troubled Cañizares. And Valencia could have increased their lead in the second half when Albelda, Angulo and Xisco all failed to take their chances.

Controversy at Racing Santander, where the local side may have to forfeit the match after fielding four non-EU players for a couple of minutes in the second half against fourth placed Osasuna. The incident happened when Lucas Alcaraz brought on Regueiro for Javi Guerrero in the second half, and although he realised his mistake almost immediately and took off Anderson Silva, the damage had already been done. The game finished without goals, but under league rules the visitors will probably be awarded a 0-3 win when the disciplinary hearing comes up next week.

Athletic Bilbao came from behind to beat Sevilla 2-1 in the last match of the evening, and thereby move back up to the UEFA cup spots. Local manager Ernesto Valverde was forced to put together a makeshift defence with key players out, but they were caught out with less than a minute on the clock when they failed to clear a long cross, and Baptista took advantage to put the visitors ahead. Urzaiz levelled the scores six minutes later though from Yeste's cross, and Yeste himself scored what was to be the winner later in the first half. Athletic finished with ten men though when Del Horno was sent off near the end.

Málaga ended Mallorca's five match winning run, beating them 3-1 in the Rosaleda stadium. Fernando Sanz headed the home side ahead, but Eto'o equalised and had a chance to put the visitors in front from the penalty spot early in the second half. Calatayud saved his kick though, and Duda restored the lead before Salva got a third in injury time, also from the penalty spot after he himself was fouled by Fernando Niño.

A mistake by Valbuena gave Albacete a 0-1 win over their relegation rivals Zaragoza. The reserve keeper started the match in place of the injured Lainez, but he failed to hold on to Parri's high cross in the second half, dropping the ball on to the head of Mikel who gratefully headed it back into the net. The home side were ineffective in attack, and the fans called for the head of manager Paco Flores at the end of the game.

Valladolid and Real Murcia played out a dull 0-0 draw in the day's other game. Visiting manager Joaquín Peiró packed his midfield to smother the home side's creative play, and the only chance in the first half came when Juanmi tipped an Oscar González shot onto the bar. Either side could have scored in the second half, but both had to settle for a point which keeps Murcia in next to bottom spot. (14.12.03)

An extraordinary derby match in the Montjuic stadium, where both sides finished with eight men as Barcelona beat bottom club Espanyol 1-3. All the goals came in the first half, with Jordi Cruyff giving the hosts the lead when he headed De la Peña's free kick past Rüstü, but Ronaldinho equalising a minute later after Kluivert laid back an Overmars cross. Kluivert added two more himself before the break, and De la Peña was the first to go for a foul on Reiziger. Referee Pino Zamorano then sent off Márquez, Quaresma, Soldevilla, Cocu and Lopo in the second half, setting a new record for the Spanish first division.

Celta and Real Sociedad were both feeling the effect of their tough Champions' League matches midweek, and once again produced disappointing results. Real Sociedad stay down in the bottom three after they were beaten 2-0 by Villarreal, who move up to fifth pending Sunday's games. Riquelme put Benito Floro's side ahead in the twelfth minute, but the Basques had a chance to equalise when Belletti handled in the area, but Reina saved Kovacevic's spot kick, and a few minutes later the keeper set up Sonny Anderson for the second with a long throw.

Celta came back from behind against Atlético Madrid, but in the end had to settle for a 2-2 draw, their sixth home match in a row without a victory. Simeone headed the visitors into the lead from an early corner, but Luccin made it all square with a free kick through the defensive wall and Milosevic poked home a second from a Jesuli cross before the break. Lequi equalised though near the end with a spectacular goal, hooking the ball back over two defenders before crashing a shot over Cavallero. (13.12.03)

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