First division, day 22
A sensational result at the Nou Camp on Sunday, where Atlético Madrid gave their city neighbours Real Madrid a helping hand by beating Barcelona 0-2. The goals were scored in the first and last minutes of the game by Fernando Torres, who earlier in the week had been linked with a possible summer move to the Catalan club. "El Niño" put the visitors ahead after a back-heel flick from Ibagaza put him through, and wrapped things up from the penalty spot after he himself had been brought down by Víctor Valdés on a last minute breakaway. Ronaldinho had had the chance to level the scores earlier in the second half when his side were awarded a penalty, but he curled his spot kick wide. It was Barça's first home defeat for over a year, and cuts their lead over Real Madrid to just four points.
The fight for the last two Champions League spots is hotting up though, with just three points separating five teams. Sevilla moved up level on points with third placed Valencia after a comfortable 0-3 win over Levante, who drop to within four points of the relegation zone as a result. The Andalusians put their midweek cup defeat behind them, with Antoñito getting the first goal from Adriano's cross in the first half and Makukula adding a second after the break. Baptista had been rested at the start, but he came on to fire home a third with a long free kick near the end, leaving local manager Bernd Schuster under pressure to get a result as soon as possible or face the consequences.
Sevilla's conquerors on Wednesday were Osasuna, and they were given an ovation when they came on to the pitch at Betis as a result. But that was all they got after Serra Ferrer's side beat them 3-1 to move back up to the UEFA cup spots. Marcos Assunçao caught out keeper Elia with a long shot in the tenth minute, and although the visitors equalised through Valdo a few minutes later, the hosts restored the lead before the break from an Assunçao free kick, Rivas claiming the goal but television pictures suggesting it was Puñal who headed the ball into his own net. Oliveira added the third late in the second half, his twelfth of the season in the league.
Villarreal beat Racing Santander 2-1 to make it five wins in a row, although they had to come from behind to do so. Regueiro gave the Cantabrians the lead midway through the first half with a spectacular shot following a short free kick, but a few minutes later his side were left with ten men after Regragui picked up a second booking. Diego Forlán equalised just three minutes after the restart from Guayre's cross, and Riquelme got the winner later on from the penalty spot after Arruabarrena was fouled by Moratón. Pellegrini's side move up to fifth, just one point behind Valencia and above Espanyol, who drop out of the European spots completely.
Deportivo La Coruña and Athletic Bilbao lost ground in their push for a return to Europe after cancelling each other out in a 1-1 draw. Depor's new signing Coloccini made his debut, but could do nothing about a long shot from Orbaiz early in the second half which beat Munúa to put the Basque side ahead. But the Galicians were awarded a controversial penalty near the end when Víctor was pulled down by Solabarrieta, referee Pino Zamorano keeping play going for a minute or so after the incident before he caught the linesman's signals. Diego Tristán converted the kick though to save a point for his side.
There was more controversy at Albacete, where the locals ran out 2-1 winners over Zaragoza thanks to two dubious penalty decisions by referee Teixeira Vitienes. Oscar González had headed the visitors into the lead on the quarter hour mark, and the home fans were upset when Teixeira disallowed a goal by Pacheco on the stroke of half time for a questionable offside. But just two minutes after the restart the referee ruled that Oscar had handled when the ball hit him on the arm from point blank range, showing him a second yellow card and awarding a penalty which Pacheco converted. And six minutes from the end Albacete were given a second penalty when Francisco fell under a challenge from Luis García, the referee sending off the keeper before Pacheco struck home the winner past his substitute Rubén.
Albacete move out of the bottom three, above Racing and also Málaga, who were held to a 0-0 draw by Mallorca in their relegation battle. There were very few opportunities for either team in a hard fought game, although Héctor Cúper's side had the better chances, especially in the second half when Arango rattled the crossbar with a free kick and Ramis, Luis García and Campano all went close.
Mallorca stay down in next to bottom spot, three points behind Racing and now four points above Numancia, who were beaten 1-0 by Getafe. The locals were the better side, but they only managed to beat Juanma once, the goal coming in the first half from a player who was on their books last season, Kome, after Vivar Dorado and Craioveanu combined to set him up. The win takes the Madrid based side up to thirteenth, five points above the drop zone. (06.02.05).
It was Real Madrid's turn to put the pressure on leaders Barcelona this week, and they did so with a convincing 4-0 win over fourth placed Espanyol. Playing twenty-four hours before their rivals, Luxemburgo's side went ahead early on when Zidane picked up a long ball and ran on to fire a shot into the roof of the net. Casillas did well to keep out Ito twice, but soon afterwards Raúl made it two after Kameni could only turn Figo's shot on to the post. Raúl helped himself to another goal a quarter of an hour from the end, connecting with Solari's cross to shoot wide of the keeper, and substitute Gravesen wrapped things up near the final whistle with his first goal for his new club. It was a record sixth win in a row for the new coach since he took over from García Remón, and his side move to within four points of Barça pending their match tomorrow.
A thrilling match at the Anoeta stadium between Real Sociedad and Valencia, where the lead changed hands three times before the match ended in a 3-3 draw. Di Vaio beat the offside trap to put the visitors ahead in the ninth minute, but Nihat levelled the scores on the stroke of half time with a spectacular volley from outside of the area. There were no more goals though until ten minutes from the end when Aranburu put the Basque side ahead after Cañizares failed to hold on to Nihat's shot. Ranieri's side turned things around again though in the next few minutes, Baraja heading an equaliser from Aimar's free kick and Xisco scoring with a first time volley. But with the game in injury time Nihat got his second of the night to save a deserved point for his side. (05.02.05)