First division, day 30
A convincing win for Real Madrid at last, their 4-0 victory over Deportivo taking them back up above Osasuna to second in the table. López Caro's side took the lead early on when Héctor deflected a Beckham free kick in to his own net, and Ronaldo added a second before the break after Robinho sent Roberto Carlos away down the left wing. Sergio Ramos headed a third from another Beckham free kick after the restart, and a Baptista free kick wrapped things up near the end. Madrid ended the day eleven points behind Barcelona, who they visit next Saturday.
Valencia lost ground on the top three though, a 1-0 defeat at Sevilla taking their run without a win to six games. Ayala was back in Quique Flores's line up after a long lay off for injury, but it was not a happy return for the Argentine defender as he was sent off after giving away a penalty on Saviola a quarter of an hour from the end. Jordi fired his spot kick against the bar, but the young midfielder made up for his mistake heading the winner from Saviola's cross in injury time. The Andalusians are now only three points behind their opponents in the table.
Celta returned to the UEFA spots after a 2-0 win over Mallorca, ending their run of three defeats in a row. Both goals came in the first quarter of the match, Contreras beating Prats after the keeper had saved a long shot from Jorge, and Baiano making it two after De Ridder put him through on goal. After that Pinto made a string of first class saves to ensure a victory for the Galicians and hand visiting coach Gregorio Manzano his first defeat since taking over seven games ago.
Atlético Madrid are now five points off a return to Europe after they could only draw 1-1 against Cádiz. Kezman put the visitors ahead when he ran on to Ibagaza's through ball to beat Limia close to half time, but the Andalusians saved a point thanks to a hotly disputed penalty in the second half, Lobos converting the kick after Galletti fouled Sesma. Cádiz remain in next to bottom spot though having only won once now in their last eleven matches.
Getafe virtually assured another season in the top flight with a 2-1 win over Real Sociedad. Bernd Schuster's side took the lead with a Pernía penalty after Mikel Alonso had fouled Gavilán, but Mark González levelled the scores with a spectacular free kick just before the interval. Güiza put the locals back in front though after the restart, and the visitors ended the game with ten men when Viáfara picked up a second booking. It was a bad start for Real's new coach José Marí Bakero, and the Basques stay down in the relegation spots.
As things stand at the moment though, any three of nine sides could go down, with twelfth placed Racing Santander still only five points above the San Sebastian based side. The Cantabrians were held to a 0-0 draw by Zaragoza, and they have Dudu Aouate to thank for the point after the keeper put in a great performance. Víctor Muñoz's side almost won it after the break though when Alvaro headed against the bar.
Espanyol and Alavés also drew 0-0 in Montjuic, a result which keeps the two in fifteenth and sixteenth place respectively. The early chances were for the visitors, Nené shooting just wide and Gorka saving from De Lucas, but the introduction of Tamudo and Fredson after the restart turned the advantage around, and Bonano had to make a couple of late saves to keep the scores level. (26.03.06)
Barcelona were held to a 0-0 draw by bottom club Málaga on Saturday evening, but they still moved further clear at the top of the table after second placed Osasuna lost. Frank Rijkaard put out a much changed line up, resting Ronaldinho and Deco for the upcoming Champions League match, but despite a hatful of chances they were unable to beat an excellent Arnau. The ex Barcelona keeper saved an early header from Larsson, and kept out Giuly, Larsson and Eto'o after the restart. Eto'o got the ball in the net close to the break only to have the goal ruled out by the referee, and the Cameroonian striker also hit the bar in the last minute, but in the end both sides had to settle for a point.
Struggling Betis picked up an important three points against a Villarreal side who were concentrating more on their midweek Champions League game at Inter Milan than this match. Robert put the visitors ahead when he headed Edu's cross in off the far post early on, and a few minutes later the Brazilian forward made it two when he intercepted a sloppy back pass to run on and score. Guille Franco missed a sitter before the break and Riquelme hit the crossbar with an inswinging corner before substitute Sorín reduced the gap with a header from Riquelme's cross. But after a late penalty appeal was turned down it was all over.
Athletic Bilbao also moved away from the danger zone after beating local rivals Osasuna 1-0 later in the evening. The first half was fairly even, Ricardo keeping out Iraola early on and Webó going close a couple of times at the other end. Javier Clemente's side took the lead on the hour mark though when Luis Prieto headed Yeste's free kick down past the keeper, and after that they closed ranks to defend their lead. Tempers frayed near the end after a hard tackle by Delporte on Aduriz, and the referee showed red cards to Delporte and Urzaiz after several players clashed. (25.03.06)