First division, day 30
An exciting match at the Nou Camp, where leaders Barcelona salvaged a point with the last kick of the match in a 3-3 draw with fourth placed Betis. The Andalusians caught out their opponents early on when Joaquín beat Valdés on a counterattack, but a couple of minutes later Rivas was sent off after giving away a penalty on Deco, and Eto'o levelled the scores from the spot. Oliveira restored the lead though before the break, and Joaquín made it three after the restart with a shot which hit both posts before going in. Referee Pino Zamorano upset the visitors when he awarded a second penalty after Belletti fell under a challenge from Edu seven minutes from the end, Eto'o once again converting the kick. And in the fifth minute of injury time Van Bronckhorst ran on to a long Deco pass to lift the ball over Doblas and save the day.
Real Madrid closed the gap on Barcelona to nine points after beating struggling Albacete 1-2. The locals took the lead though in the eighth minute when Redondo rounded a defender a fired a shot under Casillas, but not long afterwards Helguera equalised with a header from Figo's corner. And with the first half coming to a close Guti found Michael Owen for him to drive a shot wide of Valbuena and put his side in front. Ronaldo came close to increasing the lead when he hit the post after the break, but his side had done enough to take the three points and restore their confidence for next week's big match with the Catalans in the Bernabeu stadium.
Barcelona's neighbours Espanyol moved back up to fifth spot with a 1-3 win over Racing Santander. Iván De la Peña was returning to his home town and he set up the first goal for Tamudo, the striker running on to his pass to win himself a penalty and drive the kick past Aouate. Benayoun headed an equaliser from Morán's free kick, but the Catalans were in front again by the break after Jarque headed a corner past the keeper. And Maxi wrapped things up three minutes after the restart, again after a De la Peña assist, to move back level on points with Betis.
Sevilla also moved on to 49 points after a 1-0 victory over bottom club Numancia, although it proved to be harder work than they thought in the end. Aranda missed two or three chances in the first half, and it was left to Adriano to score the winner after the interval after the visiting defence failed to clear Renato's cross. The result takes the Andalusians above Valencia back to sixth spot in the table.
Atlético Madrid are up to eighth after a comfortable 4-0 win over Mallorca. Colsa opened the scoring midway through the first half with a long shot which deflected in off Salva, and Fernando Torres made it two from the penalty spot in the second half after Ballesteros brought him down. The defender picked up a second booking in the incident, and the Balearic Islanders were left with nine men when Iuliano was also shown two yellow cards. Salva took advantage to add two more late on for the final scoreline.
Deportivo stay a point behind Atlético and four off the UEFA spots after beating Levante 0-1. The only goal of the game came shortly before the break when Diego Tristán beat Mora from close range after Víctor headed back a Munitis cross, referee Esquinas Torres waving away claims for offside. Tristán could have added a couple more after the interval, but Munúa had to be at his best to keep out a couple of efforts from Manchev late on.
Málaga and Getafe drew 1-1 in the other game on Sunday evening, a result which takes both a little closer to salvation. Baiano put the hosts in front early on with an individualist goal, but Nano equalised before the break with a spectacular overhead kick following a Pernía free kick. Referee Iturralde González awarded a penalty to the home side in the second half but then changed his mind, and sent off Yordi for a second bookable offence near the end. (03.04.05)
Villarreal moved up to third place in the table after beating Athletic Bilbao 3-1 on Saturday evening. Pellegrini's side took the lead early on when José Marí got on the end of a long cross from Javi Venta to control the ball and beat Aranzubia, but Ezquerro equalised ten minutes later after Etxeberría set him up. José Marí restored the lead though with his second of the night when he headed home Riquelme's corner before the break, and Forlán wrapped things up with a third goal after the restart. And it could have been more had Cazorla and Font not hit the post near the end.
A strange game at Zaragoza, where Valencia came back from two goals down to share the points in a 2-2 draw. The visitors totally dominated the first half but they couldn't find the back of the net, and Generelo put the hosts ahead with a long shot on the stroke of half time. Four minutes in to the second half the home side went two ahead when Albelda headed Savio's cross back over the head of his own keeper. But Corradi came on to pull one back with virtually his first touch ten minutes from the end, and four minutes later Caneira levelled the scores before getting himself sent off for a second bookable offence in injury time.
Real Sociedad beat local rivals Osasuna 2-0 earlier in the evening to move safely up to mid-table. Both goals came in the build up to half time after mistakes by the visiting defence, Uranga picking up a pass from Karpin to get the first and then setting up the Russian midfielder for him to get the second. The visitors could have got back in the game had Riesgo not kept out Josetxo after the restart, but it was not to be and the Pamplona based side move closer to the relegation spots without a win since the start of the new year. (02.04.05)