First division day 21
Real Madrid kept in touch with leaders Barcelona after a belaboured 1-2 win at bottom club Numancia. The match was in doubt up until the morning before kick off due to the icy conditions, but eventually went ahead after an improvement in the weather. Figo hit the post with a deflected shot early on, but Casillas had to save a Tevenet penalty later in the first half to keep the scores level at the break. Beckham gave the visitors the lead though with a well struck free kick midway through the second half, and Owen put Salgado through for him to score a second with seven minutes to go. Miguel headed home a long free kick though near the end to set up a nervous last few minutes for Luxemburgo's side
The gap between the top two and the rest is widening though, and third placed Valencia are now fourteen points behind the leaders and seven behind Madrid after drawing 2-2 at home to Athletic Bilbao. In the end however they were thankful to even save a point after coming back from two down in the last twenty minutes. Iraola put the Basque side in front from the penalty spot on the half hour mark after the referee ruled that Caneira had handled in the area, and the full back then set up Ezquerro for him to score a second goal after the restart. Mista headed one back though soon afterwards, and Di Vaio got on the end of Aimar's cross to level the scores in the dying minutes.
Espanyol and Betis shared the honours in a 2-2 draw at the Montjuic stadium. Sevilla's defeat on Saturday meant that the winner would occupy the fourth Champions League spot, and the game got off to a lively start. Kameni turned a Marcos Assunçao free kick onto the post early on, but his side took the lead when De la Peña's wide free kick bounced past everyone in to the net. Assunçao equalised early in the second half when Kameni could only push out a free kick into his path, but Tamudo restored the lead from the penalty spot after he himself was fouled by Juanito. Fernando saved a point for the visitors when he got on the end of Joaquín's long free kick three minutes from the end.
Villarreal are the most on-form team in the league though, and they made it four wins in a row after thrashing a poor Real Sociedad side 0-4. All four goals came after the break, Diego Forlán starting things off after the defence failed to clear Javi Venta's cross, and then setting up Riquelme for a second. Riquelme and Forlán combined for the striker to score his thirteenth of the season, and José Marí wrapped things up with a long charge from his own half in the last minute. The result takes Villarreal up to sixth spot, just two points outside of the Champions' League places, and leaves Real's manager Amorrortu on the verge of dismissal after four defeats in a row.
Osasuna and Deportivo cancelled each other out in a 1-1 draw, and both lose ground on the European spots. With Pandiani reportedly on his way to Fiorentina and Coloccini on the point of signing, the Galicians almost went behind when Morales headed against the post in the first half. It was one of their own players who finally put the Navarrans in front though, Pablo Amo chesting Webó's cross past his own keeper Munúa midway through the second half. However Sergio got the equaliser just a few minutes before the final whistle following Víctor's free kick to save a point for his side.
Zaragoza put a stop to their recent slide down the table with a 1-0 victory over Málaga, who drop points for the first time since Antonio Tapia took over three games ago. The only goal came when Cani followed up after Villa's shot was blocked by Arnau on the quarter hour mark, although both sides did hit the woodwork as well in the first half. Málaga's fight back ended though when they had two men sent off after the restart, Edgar for a tackle which put Cani out of the match and Duda for a second bookable offence later on.
Down near the bottom of the table, Racing Santander climbed out of the relegation spots to the detriment of Albacete after drawing 2-2 with Levante. Javi Guerrero gave the Cantabrians the lead on the stroke of half time, but the visitors turned the scoreline around early in the second half with a strike from Nacho and a free kick from Juanma which took a deflection off the defensive wall. Aganzo equalised though with a hotly disputed penalty after Levante's Juanma brought down Jonathan on the edge of the area, and both sides ended with ten men after Pinillos and Racing's Juanma were sent off.
Mallorca kept their hopes of survival alive with a 3-1 win over Getafe, and they move to within three points of Albacete and six of their opponents, who ended the weekend in fourteenth place. The star of the night was Luis García, who scored twice and made a third, opening the scoring from the penalty spot after Ballesteros had been fouled. Yordi headed one back, but Okubo and Luis García combined to set up Arango to restore the lead before the break, and García got his second of the night in the second half after Tuni put him through. (30.01.05)
Barcelona extended their lead at the top of the table to ten points pending Sunday's games after defeating fourth placed Sevilla 0-4. There were no goals in the first 45 minutes, although Ronaldinho had two headers cleared off the line in a minute and the locals had a couple of penalty appeals turned down by the referee. But just four minutes after the restart Eto'o ran on to Ronaldinho's pass to beat Esteban, and a Baptista own goal and a strike by Ronaldinho in the next ten minutes put the result beyond doubt. Giuly added a fourth later on for the final result, but Eto'o could have made it five when he hit the bar near the end.
Atlético Madrid came from a goal down to beat Albacete 3-1 and close up on the European spots. César Ferrando's side found themselves behind when Francisco picked up a ball in his own penalty area and ran half the length of the pitch before firing a long shot over the head of Leo Franco. But a dubious penalty on Colsa enabled Fernando Torres to equalise from the penalty spot, and Ibagaza and Pablo scored twice more before half time to give their side an unassailable lead. (29.01.05)