First division, week 32
Real Madrid's crisis continues, and following their elimination from the Champions League midweek, they lost top spot in the Spanish league after a disastrous 0-3 defeat at the hands of Osasuna. Once again the man who did the damage was on their own payroll, the on-loan Valdo opening the scoring with only a minute gone. Their woes increased when Ronaldo limped off injured midway through the first half, and then Pablo García made it two after a mistake by Casillas. Moha headed a third from Valdo's cross in the second half, and even the referee was against them, disallowing a goal from Zidane and turning down two penalty appeals by Beckham. The few fans who stayed to the finish ended up cheering on the visitors, who move up to fifth in the table as a result of their win.
Valencia took advantage to move two points clear at the top of the table with their sixth league win in a row, a 0-1 victory over Zaragoza. Despite a string of injuries and a UEFA cup tie next week, Rafa Benítez put out his strongest available side. The only goal came twenty minutes from the end when Angulo headed home a long free kick from Jorge López, ending Zaragoza's run of seven games without defeat. Lainez had saved well from Angulo and Carboni before the break, and the locals had tested Cañizares a couple of times before Angulo's goal.
Third placed Deportivo La Coruña followed up their epic win over AC Milan in the Champions League with a 0-2 victory at Villarreal. With one eye on their UEFA cup second leg tie on Wednesday, local manager Paquito made six changes to the line up. They paid the price though when Mauro Silva and Fran combined to set up Pandiani to head past Reina just before the break, the Uruguayan striker making up for an earlier miss when the keeper saved his penalty kick. Half time substitute Diego Tristán got an excellent second goal in the last minute, running half the length of the pitch before spooning the ball over the head of the keeper.
Athletic Bilbao moved back into the top six after a last minute 1-2 win over Racing Santander. Both keepers were in action early on, but the Basque side took the lead shortly before half time when Tiko set up Iraola to score. Javi Guerrero made it all square a quarter of an hour from the end, but substitute Yeste picked up a through ball from Ezquerro in injury time to win it for his side. Athletic move ahead of Atlético Madrid on goal difference.
The relegation spots are looking clearer after this weekend's games, with a five point gap opening up between the bottom three and the rest. Espanyol's hopes of survival took a tumble when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Albacete, who have only lost two of their last nine games. Redondo opened the scoring for the visitors after Parri lifted the ball over Lemmens, but Maxi came in the second half to level the scores after good work by Iván De la Peña.
Espanyol and Celta's plight was made worse by Mallorca's 0-2 victory over Betis, who are almost out of the running for the UEFA spots as a result. Jesús Perera crossed in for Eto'o to get the first goal on the quarter hour mark, and Eto'o returned the favour five minutes after the restart, Perera leaving a defender for dead before clipping a shot past Prats. Delibasic and Marcos could have added to the scoreline near the end, and the disillusioned home fans booed their players off at the final whistle.
Real Sociedad also moved clear of the danger zone after a 2-0 win over bottom club Real Murcia, who could be mathematically relegated by next weekend. Both goals came in the second half from Turkish international Nihat, the first with assistance from Alkiza and the second after a pass by De Pedro. The result could have been different though if the referee had not disallowed two goals by the visitors earlier on. (11.04.04)
Fourth placed Barcelona kept up their unbeaten record in the second half of the season with a 1-3 win at Valladolid. Saviola gave Frank Rijkaard's side the lead in the first minute when he got on the end of Reiziger's pass to beat Bizzarri, and then set up Ronaldinho for a second before the break. Ronaldinho got himself sent off though for a silly second booking after the restart, and the home side got back in the game, Oscar González heading one back from a corner soon afterwards and then hitting the bar a few minutes later. But with five minutes to go substitute Iniesta picked up a short pass from Luis Enrique to wrap up the game with a third goal.
Málaga moved up to sixth in the table pending Sunday's matches with a 3-1 win over Atlético Madrid. Juande Ramos drafted Diego Alonso into an attacking line up, and the Uruguayan striker made the difference, setting up Leko to score the first goal on the half hour mark and getting two himself either side of half time. Nano pulled one back for the visitors in between, but referee González Vázquez turned down a penalty appeal by Fernando Torres in the second half and a few minutes later sent off the young striker after he caught Josemi with a flying elbow. Torres will miss next weekend's derby match with Real Madrid.
Celta and Sevilla played out a 0-0 draw in the last match of the evening, a result which keeps the Galicians down in the relegation zone and leaves Caparrós's side further away from the European spots. Most of the action came after the break, with the locals having to play the last half hour with ten men after José Ignacio got himself sent off for retaliating against Baptista. Cavallero made important saves from Aitor Ocio and Antoñito late on, and Esteban stopped a last gasp header from Milosevic at the other end which would have given the home side only their third home win of the season. (10.04.04)