First division, day 25
Valencia returned to winning ways on Sunday night, new manager Antonio López leading them to a 2-1 win over Betis. The visitors took the lead though when Assunçao beat Cañizares with a free kick, and a few minutes later Doblas saved a penalty from Fabio Aurelio. Baraja levelled the scores on the half hour mark though, heading Fabio Aurelio's cross wide of the keeper, and after both sides had hit the woodwork, Mista picked up a short pass from Aimar to hit the winner. Assunçao was sent off immediately afterwards after picking up a second booking for protesting, and it was all over. The win takes Valencia back up above their opponents to fourth place.
Sevilla failed to take advantage of the defeat of their city rivals when they were held to a 2-2 draw by Racing Santander, although the point was enough to take them up to third spot in the table. Baptista's scored early on after Adriano set him up, but his strike was cancelled out by Aganzo, who beat Esteban following a corner before half time. Darío Silva restored the lead a quarter of an hour from the end, but Regueiro headed home another corner six minutes from the end to save a valuable point for his side.
Villarreal dropped out of the European spots after losing 1-0 to Zaragoza. Both sides came in to the game with UEFA cup victories under their belts, but the locals had the better of the first half and took the lead when Galletti headed on Ponzio's long cross for David Villa to score. Sorín hit the woodwork at the other end after the restart, but Peña almost put through his own net when he hit his own crossbar trying to clear, and Villa could have made it two when he hit the side netting late on.
With five of the top six failing to win, Atlético Madrid closed up on the European spots with a 1-0 victory over Real Sociedad. They struggled at first though as the Basque side, missing Nihat for the first time, failed to convert several chances. Antonio López got what was to be the only goal of the game midway through the first half, sweeping in a long cross from Gronkjaer, and Fernando Torres wasted the easiest of chances to make it two later in the second half. Real ended the game with ten men after Rossato was sent off for a foul on Torres in injury time.
A sensational game at Osasuna, where Málaga confirmed their recovery under Antonio Tapia with a 1-6 drubbing. Miguel Angel started things off and Duda struck a second from a free kick early on, and Baiano got two more either side of half time. Aloisi pulled one back with a spectacular volley, but the locals were left with nine men when Moha and then Cruchaga were sent off, and Juan Rodríguez and Wanchope headed two more in the last ten minutes for the final result.
The match between Athletic Bilbao and Getafe was postponed to 23rd March to enable the Basque side to play their second leg tie against Austria Vienna. (27.02.05)
Leaders Barcelona were surprisingly held to a 1-1 draw by bottom club Numancia on Saturday evening. The match was in doubt up until an hour or so before kick off due to the icy conditions of the pitch after a snowstorm, but eventually went ahead after the weather improved. Frank Rijkaard put out a line up with only one change from the side which drew against Chelsea midweek, but lost Belletti to an injury late in the first half. The goals came two minutes either side of half time, Juanlu opening the scoring for the hosts with a spectacular overhead kick after a long throw in, and Márquez replying for the Catalans, turning in Xavi's corner on the near post.
Barcelona extend the gap at the top to eight points though after second placed Real Madrid lost 2-0 at Deportivo La Coruña. Injuries and a bout of flu meant that Luxemburgo had to put out a makeshift side, and they found themselves two down with less than fifteen minutes on the clock, Luque starting things off with a near post header from Sergio's cross, and Madrid defender Pavón heading their second over the head of Casillas whilst trying to clear Víctor's cross. Sergio and Tristán could have added to their lead later in the first half, but they had done enough to ensure the three points which takes the Galicians back to within five of the European spots.
Espanyol moved back up into the top four pending Sunday's games after beating struggling Albacete 2-1. Maxi put the Catalans ahead only four minutes in to the game when he got ahead of Valbuena to head home Dani's cross, and Tamudo fired home a second from close range later in the first half after the keeper had blocked Jarque's header following a corner. Pacheco pulled one back on the hour mark with an individualist effort, but Fredson could have got a third for the home side when his long shot rocketed off the post.
Levante recorded only their second win in fifteen games, beating Mallorca 1-2 to leave the Balearic Islanders further down in the relegation zone. All the goals came in the second half, with the locals going ahead when Romeo set up Luis García for him to beat Mora. But Sergio García got on the end of Ettien's cross to slide home the equaliser soon afterwards, and with eight minutes to go Jofre headed home another cross from Ettien to take the pressure off his manager Bernd Schuster. (26.02.05)