First division - day 31
Real Madrid ended the weekend still seven points ahead of their closest rivals after Villarreal lost 2-0 to Sevilla on Sunday evening. Luis Fabiano ran on to a long ball from Daniel Alves to open the scoring in the twentieth minute. And the Andalusians had several more chances before Kanouté got the second from the penalty spot after Diego López pulled down Jesús Navas near the end.
Villarreal are still second though, ahead of Barcelona on their head-to-head record after the Catalans were held to a 0-0 draw by Getafe. Both sides had played gruelling ties in Europe mid-week, and the visitors lost Pablo and Mario to injuries before the break. Eto'o. Giovani and Xavi all hit the post for the locals, but they were unable to beat Pato and there were protests from the crowd at the end of the game.
Atlético Madrid consolidated fourth spot after an event packed 6-3 win over Almería. An Antonio López free kick and a Diego Forlán penalty put the locals two up in five minutes, but although Pulido was sent off in the penalty incident, Felipe Melo and Juanma Ortíz levelled the scores within the next twelve minutes. Simao put the home side ahead again, but Negredo headed an equaliser soon afterwards. Almería were left with nine men though when Juanito was shown a second yellow card, and another Simao strike and two second half goals from Agüero wrapped things up.
Racing Santander ended the weekend three points behind Atlético after they were beaten 1-3 by Deportivo. Xisco gave the Galicians a second minute lead, and Coloccini made it two midway through the first half. Jorge López got one back with a well struck free kick, but Xisco got his second of the night and his fifth in eight days after Lafita set him up shortly before the interval.
Espanyol drop three points off the European spots though after they lost 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao. Garmendia headed the only goal of the game from Gabilondo's cross on the quarter hour mark to take the Basque side within two points of their opponents, although it could have been different had Tamudo not fired a second half penalty over the top.
Valencia are also in free fall after a 1-0 defeat at struggling Murcia, and they are now in fourteenth spot, just six points above the drop zone. Iván Alonso headed the winner from Abel's long free kick shortly before the interval, and Dani Aquino and Zigic both hit the woodwork at either end after that.
Murcia move to within four points of Zaragoza, who currently occupy the third relegation spot after they lost 0-3 at home to Betis. A big crowd turned up to support the Maños, but they turned on them at the end after another defeat. Mark González scored twice for the Andalusians in the first half, a header from Ilic's cross and an individualist run, and Pavone headed the third after the break.
Valladolid climbed five points clear of the drop zone though after a 0-3 win at bottom club Levante. Llorente got the opener midway through the first half, and Víctor and Borja added two more after the restart to virtually condemn their opponents to the second division. (06.04.08)
Villarreal and Barcelona could close the gap on Real Madrid after the leaders drew 1-1 at Mallorca on Saturday night. Bernd Schuster's side took the lead when Sneijder beat Moyà shortly before the break, but Sergio Ramos got himself sent off for a second bookable offence midway through the second half, and soon afterwards substitute Borja Valero equalised for the locals.
Early in the evening Recreativo moved out of the relegation spots to the detriment of Zaragoza after a 0-1 win at Osasuna. Sinama-Pongolle got the only goal of the game, running on to Quique Alvarez's long clearance to force a shot past Ricardo ten minutes before half time. (05.04.08)