First division - day 35
This year's league is not for the faint hearted! The top four sides all won, three in the final minutes of their respective games, to maintain the status quo at the top of the table. Real Madrid are still leaders though, ahead of Barcelona on the head-to-head record between the two sides, after beating Recreativo 2-3. Capello's side seemed well on the way to victory when Robinho headed in Beckham's cross early on, and then when Van Nistelrooy made it two from the penalty spot soon after the restart. But Jesús Vázquez got one back with a second penalty, and with five minutes to go Uche levelled the scores from Aitor's corner. Roberto Carlos struck home the winner though in the ninetieth minute to make it five wins in a row for his side.
Barcelona came in to the last match of the weekend against Atlético Madrid knowing that all their rivals had won. But although Atlético have been their bogey side in the past, this time they thrashed them 0-6. Messi started things off seven minutes before the break, but by half time Frank Rijkaard's side were three up, Zambrotta and Eto'o taking advantage of mistakes by young keeper Cuéllar to score. Ronaldinho made it four soon after the restart, and after Eller was sent off for a second bookable offence, Messi and Iniesta added two more in the last ten minutes.
Earlier in the evening though it was UEFA Cup champions Sevilla who momentarily topped the table after they came from behind to beat Deportivo 1-2. Bodipo volleyed the Galicians into the lead with twenty minutes to go, but just three minutes later Renato headed the equaliser for the visitors, and Kanouté got the winner after Jesús Navas set him up ten minutes from the end of the match.
Villarreal moved to within one point of the UEFA cup spots after beating rivals Racing Santander 2-1, their fifth win in a row. Tacchinardi opened the scoring with a spectacular volley midway through the first half, and Cani got a controversial second seven minutes in to the second half after Guille Franco had barged in to keeper Toño. Melo got one back for the visitors later on.
It was by far the highest scoring weekend of the season though, and there were six at Montjuic where Getafe took advantage of Espanyol's UEFA Cup final hangover to beat them 1-5. Coro actually put the Catalans ahead, but Casquero and Manu del Moral turned the scoreline around before the break, and Pulido, Güiza and del Moral added three more in the second half.
Osasuna virtually made sure of another season in the top flight after a 1-4 victory over Levante, who had keeper Molina sent off in only the fifth minute for handling outside of the area. Soldado got two in the next half hour, and although Descarga pulled one back, Raúl García restored the two goal cushion on the stroke of half time. And Soldado completed his hat-trick in the second half with a shot from inside his own half which caught substitute Cavallero off his line.
Levante are still only two places outside of the drop zone, and Real Sociedad moved to within three points of them after a 3-1 win over Celta. Both sides started the weekend level on points, and the visitors went in front when Gustavo López scored straight from a corner in the first half. Kovacevic made it all square though just a minute after the restart, and Savio and López Rekarte added two more to take Real to within a point of fellow Basques Athletic Bilbao, and hand Hristo Stoichkov's side their fifth defeat in a row. (20.05.07)
Valencia made sure that this season's title will be a four-way race after a late 0-1 victory over Mallorca. Both sides came in to this match on form, the locals having won their last seven home games and the visitors with nine points out of nine, although they cancelled each other out in a first half with few chances. The second half got off to a lively start though, Jonás, Angulo and Ibagaza all going close, and substitute Jankovic hitting the bar. A draw seemed to be on the cards though until the last minute, when Jorge López turned Villa's cross into the path of Joaquín for him to score a late winner. Valencia had laid down the gauntlet to the top three, and Mallorca's hopes of European football now appear very remote.
Zaragoza still have an outside chance of a Champions League spot after a thrilling 4-3 win over Athletic Bilbao. Víctor Fernández's side were well on their way to a win when Diego Milito and Diogo put them two up within the first twenty minutes. And although Aduriz got one back, Sergio García restored the two goal cushion just seconds after Athletic had a penalty appeal turned down. When Murillo headed D'Alessandro's free kick past his own keeper on the stroke of half time it appeared to be all over. But Aduriz completed his hat-trick midway through the second half, the first from the penalty spot and the second a header from a corner, to set up a nail biting finish.
The defeat leaves Athletic closer to the drop zone though, and Betis are also not out of danger after they could only draw 1-1 with bottom club Gimnàstic. The game looked like ending a scoreless draw as the final minutes approached, but the visitors were awarded a controversial penalty after Makukula fell under a challenge from Robert, and Portillo stepped up to slot home the spot kick. But Betis threw everything forward, and in the second minute of injury time Xisco headed the equaliser after Juanito headed back Isidoro's cross. Bilbao's defeat means that Nàstic are still not mathematically relegated, although it would take a complete miracle to save them now. (19.05.07)