First division, day 18
Osasuna's run of nine home wins in a row came to an end when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Racing Santander. The Pamplona based side went in front on the half hour mark when Delporte curled a free kick past Aouate, but this time they were unable to hold on to the lead and Antoñito levelled the scores on the stroke of half time after latching on to a pass from debutant Damiá. The result leaves Javier Aguirre's side four points behind Barcelona, who are now assured of the honorary title of winter champions one game away from the half way stage of the competition.
Champions League sides Villarreal and Real Madrid cancelled each other out in a 0-0 draw later in the evening, a result which leaves the two teams in fifth and sixth spot respectively. López Caro decided to leave new signing Cicinho on the bench, but he brought him on when Ronaldo limped off with an injury on the half hour mark. Both teams created chances in a lively first half, but they gradually ran out of steam and ended up settling for a point.
A 0-0 draw as well in the last game of the evening between Atlético Madrid and Valencia, who hold on to third place. Many of the home team players had only just recovered from the stomach upset which caused their midweek cup game to be cancelled, and after a good start they were lucky not to lose in the end when Fabio Aurelio hit the bar late on. It was however their ninth game without a win, and the home fans called for the resignation of coach Carlos Bianchi at the end.
Sevilla moved to within a point of the European spots after beating local rivals Málaga 3-1. The visitors were left with ten men when Hidalgo was sent off on the half hour mark, and soon afterwards Maresca put the hosts ahead. Salva headed an equaliser immediately after the restart, but Adriano restored the lead and Dragutinovic wrapped things up three minutes later with the best goal of the night.
Celta returned to winning ways after a run of three defeats in a row, beating Real Sociedad 1-0 thanks to a first half strike from Canobbio. The visitors were missing Nihat, who is expected to be transferred within the next few days, and they had no reply despite bringing on new signing Stevanovic after the break.
Zaragoza had no problems defeating an Alavés side who have still not won at home all season. Both goals came after the break, Ewerthon setting up Diego Milito for him to beat Costanzo with a long shot within seconds of the restart, and the two reversing roles for Ewerthon to score the second near the end.
Cádiz moved out of the relegation zone after beating Getafe 1-0, their first win in ten games. The only goal came from the penalty spot after Matellán handled in the area in the first half, Mirosavljevic tucking away the spot kick for his second goal in four days. The crowd celebrated as if they had won the cup.
Betis stay in the bottom three though despite earning a point in a 1-1 draw at Mallorca. Jonas Gutiérrez put the home side ahead after picking up a loose clearance by Rivas, but new boy Robert levelled the scores before the break after Iuliano allowed a long clearance by Juanito through to him. (08.01.06)
Leaders Barcelona continued to tear up the record books with a 1-2 victory at city rivals Espanyol, their fifteenth straight win in a row and their eleventh in the league. Kameni kept out Belletti and Messi lifted a shot just over the bar before Deco opened the scoring on the stroke of half time, his long shot taking an awkward bounce on the wet pitch to slip through the hands of the keeper. Just two minutes after the restart it appeared to be all over when Eto'o picked up a pass from Ronaldinho and ran on to poke a shot into the net, but Tamudo put the home side back in the match when he controlled a cross from Fredson and lifted the ball over Valdés on the hour mark.
Two mistakes by Athletic Bilbao defenders allowed Deportivo La Coruña to come away from the San Mamés stadium with a 1-2 win. Julen Guerrero and Aduriz both tried their luck as the Basque side had the better of the opening minutes, but midway through the first half Amorebieta tried to clear an innocent looking cross from Valerón and only managed to hit Lacruz who slid it in to his own net. Urzaiz came on at the break and levelled the scores with a powerful header from Etxeberría's cross, but another half time substitute Arizmendi got the winner a couple of minutes later when he deflected a Munitis free kick down through the legs of Aranzubia. (07.01.06)