First division, day 22
Barcelona's run of 14 wins in a row in the league came to an end when they were beaten 1-3 by Atlético Madrid on Sunday evening. Fernando Torres always seems to do well in the Nou Camp, and he put the visitors ahead on the half hour mark after Ibagaza's cross came back off a defender. Maxi added a second just a minute after the restart after connecting with a cross from Petrov, and although Leo Franco saved well from Puyol, Petrov could have made it three when he rattled the bar with a long free kick. The home side did get one back when Larsson turned in Iniesta's cross, but a few minutes later Torres broke free again to wrap things up. Curiously Barcelona's only other defeat in the league this season came against Atlético, and the last time they lost at the Nou Camp was against the same side almost exactly a year ago.
Barcelona still have a nine point lead over Valencia, who ended the weekend a point above Real Madrid and Osasuna. The Pamplona based side finally got their first win of 2006, beating Sevilla 0-1 in the Sánchez Pizjuán stadium in the last game of the weekend. The only goal of the game came on the hour mark when Milosevic got on the end of Javier Flaño's cross to power a header past Palop, and Maresca missed a chance to save a point for the hosts when he headed wide right at the end.
Fifth placed Villarreal lost ground on the leaders after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Cádiz. The visitors opened the scoring with the game only 15 seconds old, the fastest strike of the season, after Estoyanoff won the ball off a defender and set up Medina to beat Viera. Calleja levelled the scores after picking up a pass from Forlán after the break, but in the end his side were lucky to save a point after Medina chested the ball over the line in the last minute only for infamous linesman Rafa Guerrero to rule it out incorrectly for hands.
Celta took advantage to move back up to fifth after beating Racing Santander 0-1. The Galicians had been unable to win in the Sardinero stadium in 21 previous visits, and only some first class saves by Pinto kept the scores level at the break. With the game seemingly heading for a draw though, substitute Jesús Perera picked up a pass from Canobbio to beat Aouate in the dying minutes.
Zaragoza also closed up on the teams above them with a 4-3 win over Betis. Víctor Muñoz's side appeared to be heading for a record score when they went four goals up midway through the first half, Diego Milito getting two and Oscar González and Sergio García scoring the others. However the Andalusians fought back with a Dani hat-trick in the next half hour, and in the end the locals had hang on for the three points.
Alavés continued their recovery taking a point away from Getafe in a 2-2 draw, although they felt they should have had more after leading right up to the last minute. Pernía had given the locals the lead from the penalty spot early on, but Aloisi equalised soon afterwards and Bodipo put the Vitoria based side ahead after the restart. Güiza saved a point though for the hosts with a strike in injury time.
Real Sociedad's new coach Gonzalo Arconada got off to a good start with a 2-1 win over Mallorca. All the goals were scored by winter signings, with Skoubo opening the scoring for the Basque side in the twelfth minute. Pisculichi equalised later in the first half after connecting with Arango's cross, but Mark González got the winner a few minutes from the end. (05.02.06)
A goal from the halfway line by David Villa gave Valencia a 0-1 win at Deportivo, keeping them in second spot nine points behind leaders Barcelona. Coming just a few days after the Galicians knocked their opponents out of the cup it was a hard fought match, with both sides hitting the woodwork before Villa caught Molina off his line midway through the first half. The hosts should have equalised a few minutes later when they were awarded a penalty for a foul by Albiol on Juanma, but Cañizares saved Víctor's spot kick twice after the referee ordered a retake.
Real Madrid clocked up their seventh win in a row, beating Espanyol 4-0 to stay within a point of the Chés. Guti started things off when he turned in Beckham's cross on the quarter hour mark, and López Caro's side scored three more in an eight minute period around half time, Zidane volleying home a Roberto Carlos pass and Ronaldo heading a Cicinho cross past Gorka before the break, and Zidane adding a fourth after Cicinho set him up early in the second half. And it could have been more had Jarque not cleared a Woodgate header off the line later on.
Málaga moved out of the relegation zone pending Sunday's games after beating fellow strugglers Athletic Bilbao 2-1. Manolo Hierro was in charge for the first time after Antonio Tapia was fired midweek, and he saw his side take the lead on the half hour mark when Litos headed home Hidalgo's free kick. Aduriz equalised soon afterwards following a Yeste free kick, but although the locals were left with ten men after Nacho picked up a second booking, Salva headed the winner a few minutes later to leave the Basques down in the bottom three. (04.02.06)