First division, day 19
A three way tie at the top of the table at the midpoint of the season, although Barcelona are all but assured of the honorary title of winter champions on goal average (they still have to visit Betis midweek) after beating Gimnàstic 3-0. Saviola took advantage of a place in the starting line up to open the scoring with just over a quarter of an hour gone, and Giuly and Iniesta got two more in the second half. Real Madrid are level with Barcelona and Sevilla though after a 0-1 victory at Mallorca, Reyes getting the only goal with a well struck free kick late on.
Goals were few and far between this weekend though, the nine scored being the lowest total for over 25 years. Valencia moved back up to fourth, just two points behind the top three, after beating Real Sociedad 0-1 thanks to a David Villa free kick. Zaragoza are still sixth after drawing 0-0 with Recreativo Huelva, but the Andalusians are just one point behind them in the table. And Getafe are back up to eighth after a 1-0 win over Celta, Manu Del Moral scoring with less than a minute on the clock. The Galicians ended with ten men when Contreras was sent off, and they have now gone eight games without a win.
A couple of goals at least at Betis, where the home side drew 1-1 with Racing Santander. Both came in the last few minutes of the game, Garay putting the visitors ahead from the penalty spot and Xisco scoring a spectacular equaliser two minutes later. Deportivo and Espanyol drew 0-0, but only thanks to referee Megia Dávila, who ruled that a shot from Arizmendi didn't cross the line after bouncing off the bar, and then disallowed a second strike by the centre forward for the positional offside of a colleague. A 0-0 result as well between Levante and Athletic Bilbao, a first point for new coach Abel Resino who took over at the Valencia based club midweek. (21.01.07)
Sevilla extended their lead at the top of the table to three points pending Sunday's games after drawing 0-0 at Villarreal. It was a dull and at times physical game though, with chances few and far between. The best came in the second half, Kanouté firing a long shot wide and Diego Forlán bringing a good save out of Palop from a free kick. The Andalusians have yet to win in the league in 2007, and they could miss out on the honorary title of winter champions if Barcelona win either of their two remaining games.
Atlético Madrid got their revenge for their elimination from the cup with a 1-0 win over Osasuna, a result which takes them up to third. Referee Lizondo Cortés was the main protagonist though, sending off four visiting players including Cuéllar for giving away a penalty on Fernando Torres in the second half. Torres put the spot kick wide, but Zé Castro volleyed home the winner soon afterwards, and Soldado, Ricardo and Raúl García all got their marching orders in the last few minutes. (20.01.07)