First division - day 22
Barcelona caught up three points on leaders Real Madrid after a late 1-0 win over Osasuna. Frank Rijkaard's side dominated the first half but they were unable to beat Ricardo and his defence, the keeper saving well from Henry and Bojan and Monreal heading an effort from Iniesta off the line. As a heavy rainstorm fell, it looked as if the visitors had done enough to save a point. But with two minutes to go a shot from Iniesta was deflected into the path of Xavi, who drilled the ball into the net to win the game.
Barça's neighbours Espanyol are up to third after a 0-1 victory at Getafe later in the evening. Jonathan Soriano turned in Rufete's cross with just over a quarter of an hour gone to open the scoring, but the locals wasted several chances to level the scores after the break.
Villarreal drop a place to fourth after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Mallorca. Both sides were suffering a hangover from their midweek cup defeats, but referee Rodríguez Santiago lent them a hand with two dubious first half penalties, the first converted by Rossi after Héctor tripped Cazorla, and the second scored by Basinas after Godín pushed Ballesteros.
Atlético Madrid were also held to a 1-1 draw by Murcia, and they are now down to fifth. Both goals came after the break, Jofre putting the visitors ahead from the penalty spot after Eller fouled Iván Alonso, and Luis García replying for the hosts with a shot wide of Notario.
A 1-1 scoreline as well between bottom club Levante and sixth placed Racing Santander, Riga putting the home side ahead following a second half corner and Duscher converting yet another controversial penalty after the midfielder fell under a challenge from Descarga. With most of the sides above them faltering,
Sevilla closed up on the European spots with a 1-2 win at Recreativo. Top scorer Luis Fabiano was the man to do the damage with two goals, the first on the stroke of half time after Alves set him up, and the second with a header from an Alves corner. Beto headed one back near the end.
Valencia's cup success has finally kick-started their season, and they beat Valladolid 0-2 for a first league win in ten games. Mata got the first after controlling a long pass from Marchena, and Villa scored the second from Arizmendi's cross, his first league goal in almost three months.
Zaragoza recorded their first win under new coach Javier Irureta, a 1-0 victory against Athletic Bilbao. Oliveira volleyed a Diego Milito cross past new keeper Armando for the only goal of the game, although Milito and Sergio García both hit the bar in the second half. (03.02.08)
A surprise on the opening match of week 22, newly promoted Almería beating leaders Real Madrid 2-0. Unai Emery's side took the lead on the quarter hour mark following a wide free kick, Cannavaro's clearance only going as far as Juanito, who fired the ball over the line despite the best efforts of Casillas to keep it out. And with the second half only minutes old Negredo made it two from the penalty spot after the ex Real Madrid Castilla striker had been brought down by Cannavaro. It was Madrid's first defeat in three months, and their lead could be cut to six points if Barcelona win on Sunday.
Later in the evening Deportivo beat Betis 0-1 to move out of the relegation spots pending Sunday's games. Once again Lotina lined up with five at the back, repeating the formation which recorded a victory against Valladolid last week. And it was their central defenders who won the day, Pablo Amo turning in Coloccini's cross ten minutes before the break, and Lopo winning a penalty in the second half which Ricardo saved from Juan Rodríguez. (02.02.08)