First division, day 23
Second placed Valencia beat leaders Barcelona 1-0 in the last match of the weekend to close the gap between the two to six points. Visiting keeper Víctor Valdés kept out efforts from Angulo and Aimar early on, but was a fault for the only goal, his soft pass to Puyol being intercepted by David Villa who lobbed the ball back in to the net on the stroke of half time. And Cañizares made a vital save from Larsson after the restart to tie up the three points and hand Frank Rijkaard's side their second defeat in a row.
Celta moved back up to fifth in the table with a 1-0 victory over Villarreal. The only goal of the game came shortly before half time, Baiano celebrating his return to the side by converting a penalty after Gonzalo Rodríguez had barged in to David Silva. The visitors tried their best after the break, but they were unable to make any inroads against a direct rival for the Champions League spots.
An injury time strike from substitute Rubén Castro gave Deportivo a 0-1 victory against Betis. Both sides had had their chances throughout the match, Víctor hitting the post for the Galicians before the break and Joaquín heading wide in the second half, but the game appeared to be heading for a draw before Rubén connected with Romero's cross to score.
A 1-0 scoreline as well at the Calderón stadium, where Atlético Madrid beat Real Sociedad to move up to ninth in the table. Kezman came on to get the only goal of the game ten minutes from the end, heading a Fernando Torres cross past Riesgo. The Basque side ended the match with ten men after Viáfara was sent off for elbowing Gabi.
Racing Santander continued their recent good form with a 0-2 win over Espanyol, who are paying the price of their good Spanish cup run as well as their participation in the UEFA cup. Both goals came in the last ten minutes, Damià latching on to a loose ball following a corner to chip a shot over the defence, and then setting up Casquero a minute later for him to shoot past Gorka.
Alavés climbed out of the relegation spots with a 3-2 victory over Málaga, who themselves drop down in to the bottom three. The Basque side scored three goals either side of half time, César Navas putting through his own net and Aloisi and Bodipo adding to more after the interval. Goals from Duda and Hidalgo came too late to save the result.
Mallorca stay at the bottom of the table though after drawing 1-1 with Getafe. Arango gave Héctor Cúper's side the lead after connecting with Pisculichi's cross midway through the second half, but the visitors got a controversial equaliser a few minutes later when Vivar Dorado scored from close up, the referee waving away claims for offside and a possible foul on the keeper. (12.02.06)
Real Madrid bounced back from their midweek thrashing in the cup to beat struggling Athletic Bilbao 0-2 on Saturday evening. Robinho opened the scoring for López Caro's side in the fifth minute after Zidane set him up, and substitute Raúl Bravo wrapped things up in injury time after tapping in a square pass from Robinho close to goal. In between both sides had their chances, particularly in a lively first half when Lafuente and Casillas both made a series of saves. But Madrid took the three points to move up to second spot and leave their opponents still down in the relegation zone.
Madrid's midweek conquerors Zaragoza were also in action on Saturday, but this time they could only manage a 1-1 draw at fourth placed Osasuna. Milosevic headed the home side in to the lead from Delporte's cross in only the third minute, but Ponzio equalised with a spectacular free kick before half time. The locals dominated the second half but despite chances for Milosevic, Raúl García and David López they were unable to add to their tally.
Sevilla moved up to fifth spot, five points behind Osasuna, after a convincing 0-4 win over local rivals Cádiz. Saviola returned to the side after an injury and got his name on the scoresheet within a quarter of an hour or so, but there were no more goals until Antonio Puerta headed a Daniel Alves cross past Armando twenty minutes from the end. Kepa and Kanouté added two more in the last five minutes though to produce what was in the end a flattering scoreline. (11.02.06)