First division, day 20
The first round of games of the second half of the season kicked off this weekend, with Barcelona opening up a ten point gap at the top after beating bottom club Alavés 2-0. With Samuel Eto'o away on international duty, Larsson was given the striker's role, and he opened the scoring in the first minute of the second half after Costanzo failed to cut out Giuly's cross. Giuly himself hit the woodwork three times and Ronaldinho missed a penalty before substitute Messi got the second near the end, following up after the keeper stopped a shot from Ronaldinho.
Valencia moved up to second spot, ahead of Osasuna on goal difference, after beating Betis 0-2. The star of the match was David Villa, who put his side ahead shortly before half time after picking up a pass from Albelda. The striker added a second after the restart with an angled shot across Doblas, and the home crowd gave him a standing ovation when he was substituted near the end. The defeat leaves the Andalusians back down to within two points of the drop zone.
Osasuna themselves were beaten 2-1 by Villarreal, but only thanks to two late penalties in a bad tempered match. Raúl García had given them the lead midway through the first half with a long shot, but Guayre was brought down twice in five minutes and both times Riquelme stepped up to beat Ricardo. The hosts move up the table to fifth, now just five points behind their opponents who have not won since the turn of the year.
Deportivo drop a place in the table to sixth after they were held to a 2-2 draw by Mallorca. The Galicians seemed to be on the way to victory when Valerón beat Moyà with a shot on the turn and then won a penalty which Diego Tristán converted in the twenty fifth minute. But Okubo headed one back after the restart and then did enough for a loose ball to fall to Arango three minutes later for him to equalize. There was more bad news for the hosts though (and for Spain) when Valerón picked up a serious knee ligament injury which means he will miss the rest of the season and the World Cup.
Celta move level with their neighbours on points after beating Málaga 0-2. Antonio Nuñez started things off for Fernando Vázquez's side, running past two defenders before beating Arnau within seconds of the restart, and David Silva made it two later in the second half after the keeper could only push out a shot from Javi Guerrero. The home side drop into the relegation zone after eight games without a win, and coach Antonio Tapia is on the verge of losing his job.
It was by far the highest scoring weekend of the season though, with 35 goals in the ten games. Five of those came at the Sardinero stadium, where Sevilla beat Racing Santander 2-3 to move to a point of the European spots. Kanouté headed the first goal for the visitors, and although Juanjo levelled the scores before the break, Maresca restored the lead with two penalties in the first ten minutes of the second half. Felipe Melo headed one back late on, but it was too late to save the result.
The biggest win of the day came in Madrid, where Getafe got their revenge for being knocked out of the cup with a 5-0 victory over Espanyol. Güiza headed his side into the lead in only the fourth minute from Redondo's cross, and then set up Pernía for a second later in the first half. And both goalscorers repeated the act after the break, Güiza heading over Gorka and Pernía crashing home a spectacular free kick before Gavilán wrapped things up near the end.
The best was saved to last though, Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao cancelling each other out in a thrilling derby which ended 3-3. Nihat celebrated his decision to stay at Anoeta with two goals in the first half, both set up by new signing Skoubo, but Aduriz made it all square with two for the visitors after the interval, the first a header from Orbaiz's cross and the second with a shot after Dañobeitia set him up. Skoubo restored the lead a minute after the equaliser, but with the game already in injury time Iraola saved a point for Javier Clemente's side. (22.01.06)
Real Madrid came back from a goal down to beat Cádiz 3-1 and move up to third in the table. All the goals came in the second half, with Medina delighting the 5.000 or so travelling fans after picking up a pass from Mirosavljevic to put the visitors ahead. Madrid came back though with two set piece free kicks in three minutes, Roberto Carlos driving the first through the defensive wall and Beckham bending the second past Armando, and Robinho wrapped things up with a long shot over the keeper's head near the end.
Atlético Madrid got their revenge for being knocked out of the cup by Zaragoza midweek, their 0-2 victory in the Romareda stadium ending a run of ten games without a win. Maxi opened the scoring on the half hour mark with a shot from the edge of the area, and Fernando Torres got the second from the penalty spot after César fouled Maxi inside the area after the restart. (21.01.06)