First division - day 15
Barcelona stay in second place after a 2-1 win over Deportivo. The Galicians surprised their rivals when Cristian beat Valdés with a long shot in only the second minute. But Ronaldinho levelled the scores from the penalty spot close to half time after Iniesta was felled by Cristian, and Xavi got the winner with twenty minutes to go after Munua could only push out a cross from Puyol. The result maintains Barça's 100% home record this season, and leaves the Galicians further down in the relegation spots.
Atlético Madrid moved up to third in the table after a 1-0 victory over city neighbours Getafe. Although there were not as many goals as there have been in recent games in the Calderón stadium, there was a lot to entertain the fans, including the sending off of four players. Forlán got the only goal of the game on the quarter hour mark after getting ahead of Abbondanzieri to turn Simao's cross into the net. And after that both sides hit the woodwork before the red cards started, Agüero, Licht, Abbondanzieri and Reyes all getting their marching orders from referee Clos Gómez.
Villarreal lost ground on the leaders after a 0-1 defeat at the hands of struggling Betis. Second team coach Paco Chaparro was in charge of the Andalusians for the first time after Héctor Cúper was fired, and his side took the lead in the ninth minute when an unmarked Capi headed Xisco's cross down past Viera. Cazorla hit the post and Nihat tested Ricardo a couple of times later on, but the visitors held on for three vital points.
Espanyol missed out on a chance to move up into the top four after drawing 3-3 at Zaragoza. An early goal from Diego Milito was cancelled out by strikes from Tamudo, Valdo and Zabaleta with less than a quarter of an hour on the clock. But even though Luccin was sent off the locals came back with two goals in the last five minutes from substitute Oliveira to save a point, and probably keep Víctor Fernández in a job into the bargain.
Racing Santander are one of the surprise sides of the season, and they moved up into the UEFA Cup spots after coming from behind to beat Mallorca 3-1. A headed goal from Webó in the ninth minute was soon cancelled out by Jorge López following a quickly taken free kick, and the visitors were left with ten men when Webó was sent off midway through the first half. Duscher put the Cantabrians ahead soon afterwards, shortly before Oscar Serrano was also sent off, and Munitis wrapped things up seven minutes from the end.
Sevilla are gradually getting their act together after a bad start to the current league campaign, and they moved up into the top half of the table after a 3-0 win over Murcia. Luis Fabiano opened the scoring in the fourth minute after Navas set him up, and Maresca made it two from the penalty spot after the break. Baiano got one back for the visitors, but Luis Fabiano got his second of the night with the game in injury time.
Almería are just behind Sevilla on goal average however after a 1-0 victory against Valladolid. Both sides had chances in the first half, with Crusat producing the miss of the season with the goal at his mercy. But the visitors had García Calvo sent off for a second bookable offence after the restart, and Negredo volleyed home the winner from a set piece free kick later on.
Levante are firmly anchored to the bottom of the table after losing 0-2 to Recreativo. Camuñas put the visitors ahead after Bouzón headed on a long cross shortly before half time, and Jesús Vázquez fired home a spectacular shot after the restart for his side's second. The victory takes the Andalusians safely up to mid-table. (09.12.07)
Real Madrid extended their lead at the top of the first division to seven points pending Sunday's games after beating Athletic Bilbao 0-1. It was not an easy victory, and Casillas had to be at his best to keep out efforts from Iraola and Llorente early on. Ten minutes after the restart though Van Nistelrooy took advantage of a defensive mistake to run on and curl a shot across Aranzubia. The Dutch striker should have scored again a few minutes later when Koikili cut him out, and soon afterwards a run from Robinho ended with a shot which hit the inside of the post, but they had already done enough to take the three points and ensure top spot for another week.
Valencia stay in sixth spot in the table after drawing 0-0 at Osasuna. Ronald Koeman made several changes to his side in an attempt to change their fortunes, but local keeper Ricardo didn't have to make a difficult save until Silva tested him late in the first half. Portillo headed an easy chance straight at Cañizares, and Plasil went close a couple of times either side of half time, but in the end honours were shared, and both sides settled for a point. (08.12.07)