First division, day 17
None of the top four sides were able to win in the first round of matches since the winter break. A depleted Barcelona side were held to a 1-1 draw at Getafe, Xavi saving a point for Frank Rijkaard's team after Güiza intercepted a bad back pass by Márquez to open the scoring early in the second half. Both keepers were in action after that, and the locals ended with ten men after alexis was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Real Madrid were beaten 2-0 by Deportivo, an early Capdevila free kick and a strike by Cristian after the restart from Arizmendi's pass enough to hand them their third defeat in a row. Arizmendi could have scored two or three more himself before the break, including one long run which ended with a shot against the post, and Madrid's only reply was an effort by Emerson just before the break which came back off the crossbar.
Valencia moved to within two points of Madrid, just behind Zaragoza on goal difference, after beating neighbours Villarreal 0-1 in the last game of the evening. Angulo got the only goal midway through the second half, beating Barbosa at the second attempt after Baraja headed on a corner. A few minutes earlier new signing Mati Fernández shot just wide at the other end, but Quique Flores's side shut up shop after that.
Recreativo also rejoined the race for the European spots, Jesús Vázquez latching on to an Uche pass early in the second half to shoot in off the crossbar and give the Andalusians a 0-1 win over Espanyol. Moisés headed against the post soon afterwards, but Recre held on to stay in seventh spot, just one point outside of the UEFA cup places.
Elsewhere Betis beat Celta 1-0 with a goal by Sobis, a first win for new coach Luis Fernández. The Brazilian striker finished off after Pinto could only push out an Assunçao free kick soon after the restart, but they could have been ahead earlier when Assunçao hit the bar with another free kick. Celta ended with ten men after Pablo García was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Betis's victory was not enough to take them out of the relegation spots as their nearest rivals also won. Urzaiz scored twice either side of half time as Athletic Bilbao won 1-3 at Mallorca, both goals coming from Yeste assists. Arango headed one back with help from Expósito, but Etxeberría intercepted a Ramis back pass to wrap things up later on.
And Camacho and Kapo were on the scoresheet as Levante beat Racing Santander 2-0. Both goals came in the last half hour, the first with an angled shot after a Courtois cross, and the second following a short free kick. The result probably saved the head of coach López Caro, for a few more days at least. (07.01.07)
Leaders Sevilla lost 2-1 to Zaragoza in their first match of the new year, a result which enabled their hosts to return to the Champions League spots. Diogo headed Víctor Fernández's team into the lead from D'Alessandro's corner on the quarter hour mark, and Diego Milito bundled home the second after the restart. Luis Fabiano turned in a Daniel Alves cross though to narrow the gap, and could have equalised had Palop not saved bravely at his feet soon afterwards. The game ended though with a boxing match between Diogo and Luis Fabiano which could cost both of them a hefty ban.
Atlético Madrid could only draw 0-0 with bottom club Gimnàstic earlier in the evening, leaving Javier Aguirre's side down in fifth place. The visitors had the better of the first half, with Leo Franco having to make a spectacular save from Campano's free kick. But Atlético came back after the restart, Galletti putting an easy chance wide and Rubén Pérez keeping out a couple of efforts from Agüero and a Pernía free kick. The home side ended with ten men when Gabi picked up a second booking late on.
Nàstic drop further behind the rest though after their closest rivals Real Sociedad beat neighbours Osasuna 2-1, only their second victory of the season. Xabi Prieto opened the scoring with a hotly disputed penalty midway through the first half, but substitute Raúl García equalised ten minutes after the break with a long shot which went through the hands of keeper Bravo. Aranburu got the winner though just a couple of minutes before the final whistle to end Osasuna's run of seven victories in a row. (06.01.07)