First division, day 25
Barcelona's lead at the top of the table increased to eight points this weekend after all of the four sides immediately below them failed to win. Valencia stay in second place after a 1-1 draw with Getafe, but although it extended their unbeaten run to fourteen games it was not the result they were looking for. The visitors were left with ten men when Matellán picked up a second booking, but it was not until a quarter of an hour from the end that David Navarro put the home side ahead after Regueiro headed across goal. But three minutes from the end substitute Nano intercepted a bad back pass from Albelda to level the scores.
Third placed Real Madrid did take the lead at Mallorca when Sergio Ramos headed home Beckham's free kick on the half hour mark. But Ramos gave away a penalty on Tuni early in the second half which Pisculichi converted, and with a heavy rainstorm falling, Arango ran on to a pass from Basinas to round Casillas and give Gregorio Manzano his second win in a row since taking over.
Osasuna were also winning against Deportivo in the last match of the weekend, Romeo giving them the lead following a quick free kick. The striker had a second goal ruled out soon afterwards, but the visitors came back with strikes from Sergio and Diego Tristán to take the three points and move up to seventh.
A surprise result in Montjuic, where Espanyol ran out 5-0 winners over Sevilla to move away from the danger zone. Fredson headed the Catalans into the lead early on, and Zabaleta and Luis García added two more soon after the break. The Andalusians had Javi Navarro sent off for a second bookable offence soon afterwards, and Luis García scored two more, the last from the penalty spot, to complete his hat-trick.
Celta took advantage to move back up to fifth after beating Cádiz 2-0. Pinto made a couple of good saves before Contreras opened the scoring late in the first half, heading past Límia after Jorge's free kick came back off the bar. David Silva added a second after the restart to send the Andalusians down into the bottom three.
Villarreal lost a bit of ground on the leading group after they were held to a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao. Both goals came late in the first half, Aduriz picking up a pass by Yeste to put the locals ahead and Diego Forlán equalising three minutes later. Viera saved an injury time penalty which would have given the Basque side victory.
Betis moved away from the danger zone with a 2-0 win over Real Sociedad, who themselves are now level with the Andalusians on points. Dani opened the scoring after Tardelli won the ball off López Rekarte to set him up before the break, and Robert added the second right at the end.
There were protests in the match between Alavés and Racing Santander after local club president Dmitri Piterman insulted the fans following the sacking of coach Juan Carlos Oliva. The home side took the lead twice in the match, first of all through Nené and then Aloisi. But the Cantabrians levelled the scores both times with a Pinilla penalty and a strike from Wilfred Dalmat to make it 2-2 and leave their hosts back in the relegation zone. (26.02.06)
Barcelona beat Zaragoza 0-2 with two late goals from Ronaldinho and Larsson to move nine points ahead of Valencia pending their game on Sunday. The match was overshadowed though by racist insults against Samuel Eto'o, who had to be persuaded to stay on the pitch after the referee stopped play to make an announcement for chants to desist a quarter of an hour from the end. Up to that point there had been little work for either keeper, but soon after play restarted Edmilson fired a shot goalwards, and Celades punched the ball clear as it was entering the net. The ex Barça and Real Madrid midfielder was sent off, and Ronaldinho tucked home the resulting spot kick. And three minutes later Eto'o swung in a low cross for Larsson to score a second and wrap things up.
Meanwhile Atlético Madrid moved to within a point of the European spots after beating bottom club Málaga 5-0, a sixth straight win in a row. Within ten minutes Fernando Torres had swooped to score twice, and Maxi added a third later in the half after Kezman headed on Petrov's cross. Kezman himself had a penalty saved before the break, but Valera came on to score with a shot from outside of the box within seconds of making his appearance, and then headed his second of the night in the last minute. (25.02.06)