First division - day 31
The title race is wide open after Barcelona were beaten 2-0 by Villarreal in the last match on Sunday night. Frank Rijkaard's side missed several chances in the first half, particularly from Eto'o and Ronaldinho late on, and they paid the price when Pires ran on to Cani's through ball to beat Valdés a few minutes after the restart. And with five minutes to go Marcos got the second after Forlán and Cani played on a long throw to hand their opponents their fourth away defeat in five games.
Three teams are now separated by just two points after Sevilla beat Athletic Bilbao 4-1 to move back above Real Madrid to second. Luis Fabiano missed an early penalty, and it was not until three minutes after the restart that Kerzhakov opened the scoring from Luis Fabiano's pass. Puerta beat substitute keeper Lafuente from a tight angle for the second, and Chevantón made it three before Yeste headed one back. Luis Fabiano wrapped things up though with a fourth goal which takes the Andalusians just one point behind the leaders.
Zaragoza took advantage of Valencia's defeat the day before to move back above them to fourth spot after a 2-0 win over Hristo Stoichkov's Celta. The presence of the new coach attracted a lot of interest, but this time he was unable to inspire his side to victory. It was not though until Víctor Fernández brought on Ewerthon that the Mañes got the win, the substitute scoring twice within a three minute period to keep up his side's unbeaten home record in 2007.
The highest scoring game of the weekend though was the one between the league's two revelation sides, Recreativo and Racing Santander, who were fighting it out for seventh spot. In the end the home side won it 4-2 to move above their opponents in the table, with Uche putting Recre in front after only one minute. Colsa equalised soon afterwards, but Pablo Amo and Cazorla got two more before the break, and Rosu made it four before Zigic completed the scoring.
Deportivo and Osasuna have their minds on other matters at the moment, the former on the Copa del Rey and the latter on the UEFA Cup, and they can be forgiven for a dull display with much changed line ups. The game appeared to be heading for a scoreless draw until Lopo made it 1-0 in the last minute after Taborda headed on a free kick, a result which takes a bit of pressure off coach Caparrós.
Espanyol and Betis drew 2-2 in a match which ended in controversy, referee Pérez Lima awarding a last minute penalty to the locals and sending off three visiting players in the ensuing protests, including keeper Contreras. Riera had headed the locals into an early lead, but Edu scored twice either side of half time to turn the scoreline around. Pandiani was also shown a red card just before the break, but Tamudo saved a point driving the spot kick past makeshift keeper Juanito.
The result leaves Betis embroiled in the relegation struggle, and they are now only four points off the bottom three after Levante drew 1-1 with Getafe. Riga gave the Valencia based side hope of climbing out of the drop zone with a scrambled goal in the fourth minute, but Belenguer equalised soon after the restart to extend Levante's run without a win to nine matches.
Bottom club Gimnàstic took a step closer to the second division though after losing 1-0 at Mallorca, and they are now six points away from safety. Víctor picked up a pass from Arango to score what was to prove the only goal of the game midway through the first half, making it six home wins in a row for the Balearic Island side. (22.04.07)
Real Madrid moved up to within two points of leaders Barcelona after beating Valencia 2-1 on Saturday evening. Van Nistelrooy gave Capello's side the lead, firing home a spectacular volley after a good team move with just over a quarter of an hour on the clock, but Morientes equalised early in the second half after Joaquín set him up. Sergio Ramos headed the winner though from a free kick by substitute David Beckham to take the Merengues above Sevilla pending their game on Sunday.
Earlier in the evening Real Sociedad kept alive their chance of salvation with a 2-0 victory over Atlético Madrid. Kovacevic connected with a centre from Savio to open the scoring in the seventh minute, and Savio wrapped things up from Herrera's cross near the end to move within three points of safety. By that time the visitors were playing with nine men after Luccin and then Eller were both sent off for protesting, and they miss out on a chance to close up on the Champions League spots. (21.04.07)