First division, day 16
Osasuna's good start to the season continued with a 1-1 draw against Real Madrid, and Javier Aguirre's side ended the weekend two points behind leaders Barcelona. Madrid's new coach López Caro was in charge for the first time in the Bernabeu stadium, and he only made one change from the line up he put out against Málaga. But even though the visitors were left with ten men early on when Puñal was sent off for elbowing Roberto Carlos, they were unable to break down a well organized defence. With a quarter of an hour to go Milosevic gave Osasuna the lead after Iván Helguera could only head Muñoz's headed cross in to his path, and substitute Soldado saved the day for the hosts when Guti and Zidane combined to set him up seven minutes from the end.
The Pamplona based side stay six points clear of Madrid, who remain in third place heading up a group of four teams all on 29 points. Villarreal are still in fourth spot after coming from behind to beat Getafe 2-1, a flattering result as the visitors played some good football. Riki opened the scoring with a spectacular overhead kick from Gavilán's cross midway through the first half, but Riquelme equalised on the stroke of half time which bounced down off the crossbar just over the line, and Diego Forlán got the winner in the second half with an acrobatic shot after José Marí laid the ball back to him.
Valencia ended the weekend in sixth place after beating Alavés 0-1 in the Mendizorroza stadium. Dmitri Piterman's side have not won at home all season, and they were defeated this time by a Raúl Albiol goal in the seventh minute after Moretti headed on a corner. Vicente could have increased the lead when he hit the post a couple of times in the second half, and the disillusioned home fans called once more for their president to go.
Sevilla kept in touch with the leaders after coming back from two goals down to beat Real Sociedad 3-2. Labaka headed the Basque side into the lead before the break, and although Cifu was sent off for a second bookable offence, Garitano headed a second goal after the restart. With a quarter of an hour to go substitute Kepa pulled one back, and Kanouté headed an equaliser soon afterwards. Real were left with nine men when Garitano was also shown a second yellow card, and Kepa took advantage to get the winner near the end.
The battle to avoid the relegation spots is hotting up, and only two points separate six clubs between 13th and 18th place. Espanyol stay a point above the drop zone after drawing 2-2 against Zaragoza, and Lotina's side have now gone four league games without a win. All the goals came after the interval, with Tamudo putting the Catalans ahead but Generelo and Diego Milito turning the scoreline around before Tamudo saved a point with a late header from De la Peña's free kick.
There was a similar result at Mallorca, where a late strike from Iuliano saved a point for Héctor Cúper's side against Atlético Madrid. Maxi put the visitors in front in the first minute of the game, and Colsa got on the end of Fernando Torres's cross to make it two with less than a quarter of an hour gone. Iuliano headed one back soon afterwards, knocking himself out into the bargain, but returned to make it 2-2 in the end. Both sides ended with ten men after Falcón and Navarro were sent off late on.
It was in fact a record weekend for red cards with no less than twelve in all, although five of those came in the game between Racing Santander and Málaga. Referee Megia Dávila sent off Anderson Silva for two bookings in the first half, but the visitors still took the lead when César Navas headed past Aouate ten minutes before the break. Casquero made it 1-1 just before half time, but Megía sent off Racing's Vitolo, Pinillos and Aganzo with straight reds after the break, and also gave Gerardo his marching orders for a second bookable offence. (18.12.05)
Leaders Barcelona made it a record twelve wins in a row after beating Cádiz 1-3. The home side got off to a good start, with Sesma, Enrique and Pavoni all going close in the first half hour. But Iniesta sent Giuly away for him to open the scoring with virtually the first shot at goal by the visitors, and Eto'o added a second on the stroke of half time with a twice taken penalty after Márquez went down under a challenge from De la Cuesta. Four minutes after the restart a quick play by Messi allowed Eto'o to get his second of the night, and it could have been a bigger scoreline had Armando not kept out Larsson twice late on. Mirosavljevic did at least give the local crowd something to shout about with a goal in injury time, but by then it was all over.
Deportivo moved up to third in the table pending Sunday's games with a 0-3 win against neighbours Celta. The turning point of the match came midway through the first half when local keeper Pinto was sent off for bringing down Munitis in the area, Diego Tristán slotting home the resultant penalty kick past substitute Esteban. Valerón made it two close to the break after picking up a long pass to beat a couple of defenders and score, and Capdevila got a third before half time with a long shot after Valerón's short free kick. Tristán could have extended the lead further after the interval, but he fired a second penalty wide of the mark.
Athletic Bilbao beat fellow strugglers Betis 2-0 to move out of the relegation spots and leave their opponents firmly anchored to the bottom of the table. Yeste hit the post for Javier Clemente's side in the opening minutes before setting up Urzaiz for him to head home the opening goal with twenty minutes on the clock. And a few minutes later youngster Dañobeitia cut in from the left wing to fire a shot in off the post for his side's second. Edu had a goal disallowed for offside in between and Joaquín put another chance over the top, but otherwise the Andalusians had no reply, and they ended the game with ten men when Oscar López was sent off late on. (17.12.05)