First division - day 34
Real Madrid stay top of the table, ahead of Barcelona on head-to-head goal average, after Frank Rijkaard's side could only draw 1-1 with Betis. The Catalans appeared to be over their midweek cup defeat at Getafe when Ronaldinho put them ahead from the penalty spot with only five minutes on the clock. And they had several chances to increase their lead, in particular a spectacular overhead kick from Eto'o which Contreras beat away. But with only two minutes to go, a lapse of concentration by the defence allowed Sobis to equalise from a quickly taken Assunçao free kick, rounding off an unhappy week for the Blaugrana.
Fourth placed Valencia are back in the title race after they beat Zaragoza 2-0, and they are now only four points behind the joint leaders. Moretti opened the scoring for the Chés when he turned in David Silva's low drive in the twentieth minute, and Silva got the second himself just before the break after a good team move ended with César pushing out a shot from David Villa. In between César saved a penalty from Villa after Zapater fouled Silva, and although the visitors did better after the restart, they were unable to break down a well ordered defence.
The result means that Zaragoza are now seven points adrift of the Champions League spots, just a point now ahead of sixth placed Atlético Madrid, who beat city rivals Getafe 1-4. Maniche set up Fernando Torres for the opening goal and scored a second himself after running on to Petrov's through ball with just over a quarter of an hour gone. Manu got one back on the hour mark, but Torres got his second of the night five minutes later, and Galletti wrapped things up from the penalty spot near the end to bring Bernd Schuster's side back to Earth with a bump following their epic cup win midweek.
Getafe's cup win means that they will almost certainly take the third UEFA cup spot, and the seventh placed side in the league will qualify for the Intertoto Cup (assuming they want to take part in the competition). Racing Santander missed out on a chance to overtake Recreativo though after they lost 0-2 at home to Mallorca, and the Islanders themselves are now only one point behind them in the table. The Cantabrians were up against early on when Munitis was sent off for an off the ball incident with Ballesteros, and Navarro and Arango put the game beyond their reach early in the second half.
Villarreal took advantage to move up level with Recre in joint seventh spot thanks to a 1-4 victory at Osasuna. Pires gave them the early lead with a low shot past Ricardo, and although Juanfran and Soldado combined to set up Valdo to equalise soon afterwards, Diego Forlán put the visitors back in front with a spectacular shot midway through the second half. And Forlán completed his hat-trick with two more goals from quick breakaways late on to make it four wins in a row for his side.
Deportivo are out of the running for the European places though after they could only draw 1-1 at Athletic Bilbao. Murillo headed the Basque side into the lead from a Javi Martínez corner a quarter of an hour in to the second half, but Riki equalised just three minutes later with a long shot following a free kick. Both sides ended with ten men after Capdevila and then Sarriegi were sent off for second bookable offences.
Athletic are not yet clear of danger themselves, and they drop to seventeenth after Levante beat fellow strugglers Celta 1-2. Reggi got the first for the visitors with a hotly disputed penalty after referee Rubinos Pérez ruled that Tamas had fouled Alvaro, and Riga made it two just a few minutes after the restart with an angled shot past Esteban. Hristo Stoichkov's side got one back through Baiano later on, but they couldn't prevent a fourth defeat in a row which leaves them in next to bottom spot.
Real Sociedad kept their hopes of survival alive after they beat bottom club Gimnàstic 1-3. Garitano headed them into the lead early on and Savio added a second before Portillo pulled one back with a spectacular shot on the half hour mark. Ansotegi made it three though with twenty minute to go to take the Basque side above Celta on goal average, just four points behind Athletic. Nàstic are now ten points away from safety though, and they could be down by next week. (13.05.07)
An amazing game at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, where Real Madrid recovered from two goals down to beat Espanyol 4-3 in the last minute. Pandiani got on the end of two Rufete's crosses to beat Casillas twice in the first quarter of the game, and although Van Nistelrooy pulled one back, Pandiani completed his hat-trick shortly before half time. Raúl reduced the gap again though just three minutes in to the second half after Van Nistelrooy flicked on a Roberto Carlos cross, and half time substitute Reyes levelled the scores a few minutes later after Kameni and Chica ran in to each other. And with a minute to go Higuaín picked up a return pass from Reyes to score the winner and take his side top of the table pending Barcelona's game on Sunday.
Sevilla remain just two points behind Madrid though after beating Andalusian neighbours Recreativo Huelva 2-1. Maresca gave the locals the lead on the quarter hour mark with a low volley after Luis Fabiano set him up, but Palop had to make a couple of important saves from Sinama-Pongolle before Luis Fabiano got the second from the penalty spot with ten minutes to go. Jesús Vázquez got a late consolation for the visitors when he converted a second penalty in the last minute. (12.05.07)