First division, day 29
Real Madrid kept their slim hopes of catching Barcelona alive when they beat Málaga 1-0 on Sunday evening. They made hard work of it though, and after a fruitless first half they were whistled off the pitch by their fans. Things improved after the break, with Arnau making two first class saves from Figo and Ronaldo before Roberto Carlos finally beat him with a long shot. Celades hit the post late on as they pushed forward looking for a second goal, but they had at least done enough to take the three points which keeps them eleven behind the Catalans.
Valencia closed back up on the Champions League spots with a comfortable 3-1 victory over Getafe. Rufete opened the scoring on the half hour mark with a shot which deflected in off Nano, and Di Vaio added a second five minutes later, beating Aragoneses after cutting in from the left. The visiting keeper gave away a penalty on Aimar which Mista converted fifteen minutes in to the second half, and Pernía pulled one back later in the half with a long shot which bounced past Cañizares.
Sevilla stay level on points with Valencia after a 0-1 victory over Mallorca. The game was overshadowed by a serious head injury to Arango in a clash with Javi Navarro shortly before half time, the Venezuelan midfielder rushed off to intensive care after going into spasms on the pitch, but reportedly out of danger at the time of writing. A couple of minutes later Baptista scored the only goal from a controversial penalty in which De los Santos was sent off, and Baptista himself was given a second booking at the end of the match.
Athletic Bilbao got their push for a European spot back on track after beating Levante 3-1. The hero of the night was youth international Llorente, who scored his first two league goals of his short career, the first with a shot from the edge of the area in the tenth minute and the second with a header from Del Horno's cross after the break. Juanma got a goal back for the visitors, but Urzaiz restored the two goal cushion five minutes from the end.
Zaragoza and Atlético Madrid cancelled each other out in a 0-0 draw, a result which leaves both a little further away from the European places. Fernando Torres was keen to score on his 21st birthday but he had few chances, and the hosts could have won it a couple of times, Savio hitting a post before the interval and Milito firing a sitter over the bar from near to goal in the second half.
Racing Santander moved closer to safety after a 2-3 victory at bottom club Numancia, who are now looking odds on to go down. The hosts took the lead twice, Pablo Sanz scoring a soft goal early on and Tarantino restoring the lead after Regueiro had crashed home a spectacular equaliser. Aganzo levelled the scores on the stroke of half time though, and substitute Arizmendi got the winner after the restart.
The game between Osasuna and Villarreal was postponed to a date yet to be determined as Pellegrini's side had to play their rescheduled UEFA Cup tie with Steaua Bucharest this weekend. (20.03.05)
Barcelona moved another step closer to their first league title in six years after beating Deportivo La Coruña 0-1 on Saturday evening. Frank Rijkaard's side took the lead in the tenth minute after Munúa had parried a Márquez free kick, Sylvinho's follow up shot going wide before Giuly fired it into the net. Diego Tristán and Luque both went close at the other end, but Coloccini deflected a Deco shot onto the bar and Eto'o drove another effort just wide either side of half time. Ten minutes in to the second half the Catalans were left with ten men when Márquez picked up a second booking, but their lead never looked in danger and they held on to extend the gap over second placed Real Madrid to fourteen points pending their game on Sunday.
With Villareal's match against Osasuna postponed, Betis moved up to third place thanks to a 2-1 win over struggling Albacete. Rivas headed Serra Ferrer's side in front just after the quarter hour mark, and Marcos Assunçao could have increased the lead when he hit the post on the stroke of half time. The Brazilian midfielder did beat Valbuena early in the second half with a shot from outside of the area to put his side two up, but Mark González headed one back from Peralta's free kick a quarter of an hour from the end. Betis closed up shop after that though, and Assunçao could have finished things off when he struck the post again with a late free kick.
Espanyol missed an opportunity to return to the Champions League spots after they were held to a 2-2 draw by Real Sociedad, and they had to settle for fifth place in the end. Kovacevic headed the visitors into the lead from Karpin's free kick midway through the first half, but Tamudo made it all square from the penalty spot after Riesgo brought him down before the break. The team captain won himself a second penalty ten minutes after the restart when Zubiaurre held him back which he converted to put his side in front, but substitute De Paula equalised with just under fifteen minutes to go with a shot which took a deflection off Soldevilla to fly over the head of Kameni. (19.03.05)