First division - day 36
Sevilla are still in the running for the league title after a late 3-1 victory over Zaragoza. Luis Fabiano put the Andalusians ahead on the half hour mark, and Kanouté should have increased the lead when he fired a penalty kick over the bar early in the second half. The visitors equalised when Daniel Alves could only head D'Alessandro's inswinging corner into his own net, but with eight minutes to go Kerzhakov restored the lead after Duda set him up. The visitors were left with ten men when Diogo was shown a second yellow card, and Kanouté made up for his penalty miss with a third goal in injury time.
Zaragoza stay in fifth spot, although their defeat means that the top four are sure of the Champions League spots for next season. Víctor Fernández's side are also not certain yet of taking one of the two remaining UEFA cup places after Atlético Madrid beat bottom club Gimnastic 0-2 earlier in the evening to move back above Villarreal. Fernando Torres got both goals, the first in the tenth minute after Maxi set him up, and the second from the penalty spot soon after the restart following a foul by Calvo on Maxi. The result means that Nàstic are the first club to be relegated.
Whoever misses out on the UEFA spots between Zaragoza, Atlético and Villarreal will almost undoubtedly still have a chance to qualify by way of the Intertoto Cup. The only other real challenger Recreativo lost their chance after a 0-1 defeat at the hands of Espanyol, a disappointment for the Andalusians after dominating for most of the match. The visitors won it though with a late goal from Tamudo, who got on the end of Luis García's cross to slide the ball past Laquait.
Racing Santander will also not be playing in Europe next season after they were beaten 2-3 by Levante, a result which virtually assures first division football for the Valencia based side for another year. Ettien put the visitors ahead early on, and although Zigic headed an equaliser, Riga restored the lead on a rapid breakaway before half time. And the Dutch forward got his second of the night midway through the second half before Felipe Melo got another one back for the Cantabrians.
Athletic Bilbao took a step closer to safety as well after beating Mallorca 1-0. A 40,000 crowd turned up at the San Mamés stadium to cheer their side on. And although Víctor came close to spoiling their night in the first minutes of each half, they eventually took the three points thanks to an Urzaiz penalty after Nunes fouled Aduriz in the second half.
Athletic's victory opens up a four point gap over Real Sociedad and Celta, who now are clear favourites to go down. Real Sociedad came in to their game at Osasuna on a roll, and with their hosts already safe there was talk of their Basque neighbours giving them a helping hand. In the end though there was nothing of the sort, first half goals from David López and Nekounam giving the locals a 2-0 win and leaving Lotina's side once again staring relegation in the face.
Celta came in to their match with Betis knowing that only a win could give them any hope of survival. And although they struggled, in the end a controversial injury time penalty gave them a 2-1 victory. Robert put the visitors in front on the half hour mark, but Gustavo López made it all square before the break. Capi was sent off a couple of minutes later, but Betis held on until Baiano converted the late spot kick to take the Galicians to within four points of their opponents. (27.05.07)
Real Madrid and Barcelona are neck and neck at the top of the table after both won their respective matches on Saturday night. Real Madrid beat Deportivo 3-1 to stay ahead of their rivals on head-to-head goal average, their sixth win in a row. The first goal came in controversial circumstances, Van Nistelrooy appearing to knock Beckham's cross back with his hand, allowing Sergio Ramos to turn the rebound in to the net. Beckham fired a free kick against the post soon after the restart, and although Capdevila got on the end of De Guzman's cross to equalise, the locals went back in front when Raúl headed another Beckham cross past Aouate. And Van Nistelrooy wrapped things up after Coloccini could only play the ball into his path under a challenge from Raúl later on.
Barcelona stay level on points with Madrid after beating Getafe 1-0 later in the evening. Frank Rijkaard's side were looking for revenge for their cup defeat, and within three minutes they were ahead when Eto'o went past two defenders and set up Ronaldinho to score. Ronaldinho almost caught out Abbondanzieri with a free kick, but shortly before the half time the Brazilian midfielder was shown a red card for retaliating, leaving the home side with ten men. Even so Eto'o and Deco could have increased the lead early in the second half, but in the end the fans were calling for the final whistle after Manu and Celestini went close.
Valencia are out of the title race though after they lost 2-3 to neighbours Villarreal in the first match of the weekend. David Villa put the Chés ahead from the penalty spot after Viera brought him down, but Diego Forlán made it all square before the break after running on to a clever flick from Guille Franco. Tomasson made it two just seconds after coming on as substitute, and then set up Forlán for a third before Moretti headed one back from Villa's free kick in the last minute. Villarreal move up into the UEFA cup spots pending Sunday's games after a sixth win in a row. (26.05.07)