First division, day 24
Valencia fought back from a goal down to beat Real Sociedad 1-2 and move back up to second spot. The home side couldn't have got off to a better start, Skoubo picking up a long ball from López Rekarte to shoot low past Cañizares with only seconds on the clock. The keeper had to be at his best to keep out Novo soon afterwards, but Rufete hit the post at the other end later in the half. Regueiro levelled the scores though with a shot from a wide angle midway through the second half, and then intercepted a poor back pass from Larrea to round Riesgo and roll home the winner a quarter of an hour from the end.
Fourth placed Osasuna are not going to give up their Champions League spot without a fight, and the Pamplona based side increased their lead over their nearest rival to five points after beating Cádiz 1-3. It was the locals who took the lead though when Lobos struck a free kick past Ricardo on the quarter hour mark, but twenty minutes later Milosevic headed Delporte's cross wide of Armando, and two minutes later David López beat the keeper with another free kick. The Andalusians had Medina sent off for a second bookable offence, and two minutes from the end Raúl García scored a third with a shot from outside of the area to put the result beyond doubt.
Deportivo and Zaragoza are amongst the sides chasing Javier Aguirre's team, but they did themselves no favours with a 1-1 draw. Conditions at the Riazor stadium were difficult, with rain turning into hailstones later in the game. But the visitors mastered the situation better, Diego Milito heading his side into the lead early on after Alvaro nodded across a Ponzio free kick. Munitis made it all square with a wide free kick after the restart though which caught César off guard, and the Galicians ended the match with ten men after Coloccini was sent off for a foul on Sergio García.
Hail fell as well in the capital city, where Getafe's match against neighbours Atlético Madrid was almost called off as a white blanket covered the pitch before kick off. The game went on though, with the visitors running out 0-3 winners to make it five wins in a row under new coach Pepe Murcia. Luccin started things off with a shot from the edge of the area in the first half, and Maxi made it two immediately after the restart after Petrov's free kick was deflected. And Fernando Torres completed the scoreline a few minutes later after Luccin put him through.
Málaga dropped to the bottom of the table after losing 0-2 to fellow strugglers Mallorca. Gregorio Manzano was in charge of the Balearic Islanders for the first time after replacing Héctor Cúper midweek, and he saw his side take the lead early in the second half when Pisculichi took advantage of a defensive mistake to beat Goitia, who had come on a few minutes earlier to replace the injured Arnau. Tuzzio was sent off after picking up a second booking, but even so Campano got a second in injury time to take the visitors two points above their opponents.
The fight to avoid the drop looks like being ferocious this season, with no less than five teams tied on points between 15th and 19th spot. Athletic Bilbao head up the group thanks to a better goal difference, their 0-1 victory at Racing Santander taking them out of the relegation zone for the first time in several weeks. They have keeper Lafuente to thank though for a string of first class saves before the break, and also half time substitute Urzaiz who struck the winner just five minutes from the end. (19.02.06)
Barcelona got back to winning ways after two defeats in a row, beating Betis 5-1 to consolidate their place at the top of the table. Ronaldinho returned to the side after a two match ban, and he combined with Eto'o to set up Larsson for the opener on the quarter hour mark. Melli put through his own net twice in a four minute period later in the first half, and Ronaldinho beat Doblas with a free kick to make it four soon after the restart. Joaquín pulled one back with another free kick, but Messi came on score a fifth near the end.
Real Madrid kept in touch with their rivals though after a comfortable 3-0 win over an Alavés side who were fielding their fourth manager of the season after Oliva was sacked midweek. López Caro's side were two up within the first ten minutes, Guti opening the scoring after picking up a pass from Robinho, and Robinho himself getting the second after a spectacular overhead kick from Baptista came back off the post. Things quietened down after that, but Cicinho made it three later on to stay within seven points of the leaders.
Sevilla made it four wins in their last five games after defeating Celta 1-0, a result which takes the Andalusians above their rivals up to fifth place. The only goal of the game came in the tenth minute when Saviola ran on to a through ball from Adriano to beat Pinto, and although both sides had several chances after that, there was no further addition to the scoreline.
A morale boosting win for Villarreal, who beat a tired Espanyol 4-0 in the first game of the evening to close up on the UEFA cup spots. Pellegrini's side had been going though a rough patch, but three goals from Tacchinardi, Marcos Senna and Forlán towards the end of the first half put the game beyond their opponents' reach. Héctor Font got the fourth near the end. (18.02.06)