First division, day 10
Real Madrid moved up into second place with a 0-2 victory over Málaga on Sunday evening, their third win in a row in the league. García Remón left Michael Owen on the bench to put out a more balanced side, with Celades playing alongside Guti in midfield. And although they didn't set the world alight, they did enough to take the three points against an ineffective opponent who hardly troubled Casillas all night. Figo opened the scoring midway through the first half with a hotly disputed penalty after Zidane was brought down on the edge of the area, and Owen came on to get the second near the end, his fifth goal in six games, after a good run by Salgado. The result leaves the "Galacticos" seven points behind Barcelona, who they meet in two weeks time.
Levante are a surprise third though, level on points with Madrid, after beating Athletic Bilbao 1-0. Bernd Schuster's side were unlucky to have two penalty appeals turned down early in the first half, but things swung in their favour when Luis Prieto was sent off for a second bookable offence just two minutes after the restart, leaving the Basques with ten men. A few minutes later Juanlu got the only goal of the match, following up after Manchev's header was blocked on the line following a corner, to send their opponents to the brink of the relegation zone.
Sevilla drop to fourth after they were held to a 1-1 draw by struggling Mallorca, a good start for the visitors' new manager Héctor Cúper who had only just returned to take over the side after Benito Floro was sacked a few days ago. Cúper only made a couple of changes in defence, but his team put in a steady performance until half time substitute Antonio López beat Westerveld with a low shot. The Islanders equalised a few minutes later though, Baptista heading a long free kick past his own keeper trying to clear.
Espanyol are back in the European spots after a 0-2 win at Real Sociedad. In the absence of the injured Tamudo, Maxi stepped in to score both the goals after the break, the first coming after the Basque side gave the ball away in midfield, and the second after the defence failed to clear a cross from the left. Nihat hit the bar in between, but it was another disappointing performance from Real, who drop back to within two points of the bottom three.
Only two points separate second and sixth place though, Zaragoza currently occupying the second UEFA cup spot after drawing 1-1 at Atlético Madrid. Savio gave the visitors the lead in only the second minute, and they looked as if they were going to come away with the three points until a late strike by Salva after Luis García could only palm away a header by young substitute Braulio.
Valencia however go from bad to worse, their 1-0 defeat at the hands of Getafe taking their run without a win to nine matches. Michel returned to the local starting line up after a long injury, and got the only goal early in the first half when his shot found a way through a crowded goalmouth following a short free kick. Sánchez Broto kept out the visitors from then on, and Ranieri could be out of a job very soon if things don't improve.
Another great performance by Riquelme gave Villarreal a 3-0 win over Osasuna, taking them a point ahead of their opponents into the top half of the table. The Argentine midfielder got a goal in each half, the first from the penalty spot and the second after Héctor Font put him through, and set up another for Gonzalo Rodríguez in between with a long free kick.
Racing Santander are level on points with Villarreal though after beating bottom side Numancia 2-0 for their third victory in a row. Both goals came after the restart, Morán opening the scoring after a clever touch by Aganzo set him up, and Javi Guerrero got the second, running on to a pass from Benayoun to beat Juanma near the end. (07.11.04)
Leaders Barcelona equalled their best ever start to the season, coming from behind to make it 26 points out of a possible 30 with a 2-1 win over Deportivo. Frank Rijkaard's side found themselves behind in the eighth minute when Márquez tried to clear a Munitis cross and the ball fell to Fran for him to volley a shot past Valdés. But after a period of intense pressure Xavi levelled the scores after Belletti set him up, and before the break the Catalans were in front, a mis-hit shot from Márquez falling kindly for Giuly to square across to Eto'o, who ran the ball into the empty net.
Albacete and Betis drew 0-0 in the only other game which kicked off on Saturday. The home side came closest to scoring, Doblas saving efforts from Rubén Castro and Pacheco amongst others, and Pacheco crashing a free kick against the crossbar after the break. But in the end both sides had to settle for a point which leaves the locals just above the relegation spots and the visitors in mid-table. (06.11.04)