First division - day 29
The gap at the top of the table has been reduced to four points after Real Madrid lost 2-3 to Valencia on Sunday evening. Ronald Koeman's side were on a roll after beating Barcelona midweek to reach the Spanish cup final, and David Villa gave them the lead with just over half an hour gone after Silva put him through. A minute later though Raúl headed home Robinho's cross to square the match, and ten minutes after the restart the team captain got his second of the night after picking up Guti's pass. Villa levelled the scores again though from the penalty spot after Cannavaro fouled Silva, and with the game coming to an end Arizmendi cut in from the right on a quick breakaway to beat Casillas for a third time.
Second placed Barcelona closed up on the leaders after a comfortable 4-1 win over Valladolid. Frank Rijkaard's side had several chances before Eto'o turned in Bojan's cross midway through the first half. The visitors equalised though from the penalty spot after Llorente fell under a challenge from Thuram before the break, and although there was some unrest in the crowd at half time, Iniesta restored the lead just a couple of minutes after the restart after Bojan headed on Touré's long ball. And Bojan added two more himself later on, the first an angled shot after the defence failed to clear a Xavi free kick and the second a far post tap-in from Eto'o's cross.
Villarreal are not out of the running for the title yet though, and they stay two points behind Barça after a 1-2 win at neighbours Levante. Mati Fernández fired them into the lead with just under half an hour on the clock, but the locals equalised twenty minutes in to the second half, Miguel Angel steering a header wide of Diego López after Juanma hooked the ball across goal. Substitute Guille Franco got the winner though soon after coming on, picking up a short pass from Pires and leaving David for dead before shooting across Kujovic.
Racing Santander bounced back after their midweek cup defeat, a 2-0 win over Recreativo taking them up to fifth place in the table. The Andalusians held them at bay though until Cáceres was sent off for a second bookable offence, but Orteman scored for the Cantabrians almost immediately, and with the game coming to an end and everybody including Sorrentino up for a corner, Coltorti threw the ball to Smolarek who rolled a shot into the empty net from just over the halfway line.
Espanyol drop out of the UEFA Cup spots though after a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Murcia. After only picking up one point in ten games new coach Javier Clemente seems to have found the formula, Iván Alonso opening the scoring from the penalty spot before the break and heading a second a minute in to the second half. Abel converted another penalty after Iván Alonso was fouled again, and Alonso headed across for Richi to make it four near the end.
Other than the top seven though nobody is completely safe from the drop, although Athletic Bilbao seem to be on the way to maintaining their ever present record in the top flight after beating Getafe 1-0 in the last match of the evening. Etxeberría got the only goal, turning in Del Horno's cross in the first half, to take his side up to eighth in the table.
Athletic are level on points with Getafe, Valencia and also Almería, who drew 1-1 at Zaragoza. Despite having Gabi sent off for a second bookable offence, the Maños appeared to be on their way to a win when Oliveira headed a Matuzalem corner past Diego Alves. But Negredo scored in the last minute after Kalu Uche flicked on Mané's corner to save a point for his side. Zaragoza are now only one point above the relegation spots.
Betis moved away from the danger zone after a 0-1 victory at Osasuna, who are now one point behind them in the table. The Pamplona based side had won their last four home games, but they were beaten by a second half strike from Mark González following a short free kick, and they ended the match with ten men after Javi García was sent off. (23.03.08)
Atlético Madrid consolidated fourth spot in the table with an important 1-2 victory at fifth placed Sevilla. Maxi put the visitors ahead with just over quarter of an hour gone, latching on to Simao's long cross and driving in a shot which took a slight deflection off Adriano. Diego Capel equalised three minutes after the restart, turning the ball back into the net after Abbiati could only push out Kanouté's shot, but Agüero restored the lead a few minutes later from Antonio López's cross, and the locals were left with ten men soon afterwards when substitute Maresca was sent off for head-butting Agüero.
Earlier in the evening Mallorca beat Deportivo 1-0 to move up safely to mid-table. Both sides started the game level on points, just two above the drop zone, but the locals won it thanks to an Arango free kick midway through the first half which bounced past everyone into the net. Güiza in particular wasted a couple of chances to increase the lead later on, but after the break the visitors could have levelled the scores themselves. (22.03.08)