First division, day 5
Valencia and Barcelona opened up a three point gap at the top of the table after both clocked up comfortable victories, and the early indications are that it is going to be a two horse race this season. Valencia stay just ahead of their rivals thanks to the higher number of goal scored after a 2-0 win over Racing Santander. Once again Vicente was the star of the match, scoring the first from a deflected free kick and setting up the second for Fiore on the stroke of half time. The Cantabrians had been reduced to ten men when Oriol was sent off just before Fiore's goal, and Palop had virtually nothing to do in the home side goal throughout the ninety minutes.
Barcelona had no trouble beating Mallorca 1-3, and could have won by a bigger score had they taken their chances. Larsson in particular failed to beat Moyà three times before the break, but he did get the opening goal early on after Xavi's attempted shot from Ronaldinho's cross fell to him after it was blocked by a defender. All interest though was on Samuel Eto'o, who was returning to the San Moix stadium, and he was to score twice in the first half, the first from the penalty spot after Ronaldinho was brought down, and then when Larsson set him up to lob the keeper and score. Delibasic got one back after the break as the visitors slowed down, but by then the game was over.
No less than five teams are level on ten points, three behind the leaders, including Espanyol, who are in a heady third place after a 1-0 win over Málaga. Tamudo and De la Peña exchanged roles for the former to set up the latter to score six minutes in to the second half, and they could have been further ahead if Alex's free kick had not bounced the wrong side of the line after hitting the bar earlier on. The Catalans suffered in the end though, and Málaga thought themselves unlucky not to have a penalty in the dying minutes.
Osasuna are in fifth spot, just behind Atlético Madrid, after beating Getafe 2-1. The Pamplona based side went two goals up in the first half when Moha collected Aloisi's headed pass to score, and Milosevic outran his marker to head a Corrales cross past Sergio, but Pachón pulled one back with a long shot just before the break. And Sevilla occupy the other UEFA cup spot after a 2-1 win over struggling Real Sociedad, who have only picked up two points all season. The Basques did take the lead with a spectacular shot off the crossbar from Rossato, but Sergio Ramos equalised before the break and Darío Silva finished things off after in the second half.
Zaragoza are the fifth side on ten points, and once again the fans were treated to a goal feast as they ran out 4-3 winners for the second match in a row in the Romareda stadium, this time against Levante. Manchev twice gave the visitors the lead in the first half, but a Villa penalty squared it the first time and a Javi Moreno strike levelled the scores again a minute after the restart. Savio and Javi Moreno gave the locals what looked like an unassailable lead later in the second half, but Celestini headed one back soon afterwards to set up a thrilling finish. No such luck though in Soria, where Numancia and Albacete shared the points in a dull 0-0 draw. The result takes the locals up to mid-table, and leaves the Manchegans down in joint bottom spot with Real Sociedad. (26.09.04)
Mariano García Remón suffered his first defeat as manager of Real Madrid when his team were beaten 2-1 by Athletic Bilbao. The Basque side took the lead early on when Urzaiz collected a long cross from Del Horno to beat Casillas, and Ezquerro added a second on the stroke of half time, again from a centre by Del Horno. Raúl got one back five minutes in to the second half, his first league goal in several months, but they hardly troubled Aranzubia after that, and Valverde's side could have increased their lead if Casillas had not been at his best. Athletic had got their first win of the season though, and they move out of the relegation zone as a result.
Atlético Madrid moved up to third spot in the league pending Sunday's games after beating Villarreal 1-0. The visitors came closer to scoring in the first half, with Forlán shooting wide and Senna hitting the bar with a long free kick. But Salva gave his side the lead just before the break when he rose above the defence to head Musampa's cross wide of Reina. An accidental clash between Luccin and Aguilera forced Ferrando to make two substitutions early in the second half, and his side were left with ten men when Perea was shown a second yellow card. But they held on for the three points, even though Guayre hit the bar in the dying minutes.
Deportivo La Coruña had to make do with a 1-1 draw against Betis, and they have still to win at home this season in the league. Both sides had chances in the first half, but it was the visitors who took the lead after the break when Oliveira ran on to Fernando's pass to turn the ball through the legs of Molina. Víctor levelled the scores though ten minutes later after Prats couldn't hold on to a long shot from Valerón. (25.09.04)