First division - day 33
Real Madrid are ten points clear at the top of the table after a 0-2 victory at Racing Santander, and they will be crowned league champions if they win next weekend and Villarreal and Barcelona fail to do so. Raúl gave Bernd Schuster's side an early lead, playing Robinho's cross on past Toño with just under a quarter of an hour gone. And with the game coming to an end substitute Higuaín wrapped things up with a second goal after picking up a pass from Balboa. Racing's defeat means that Atlético Madrid hold on to fourth spot for now.
Villarreal moved up ahead of Barcelona to second spot after a 2-0 win over Valladolid. Nihat opened the scoring with fifteen minutes on the clock, picking up Cazorla's pass and cutting in past Alexis before beating Sergio Asenjo from a wide angle. And the two changed roles at the start of the second half, Nihat squaring across for Cazorla to roll the ball in to an empty net.
It was back to the real world for Valencia after winning the cup midweek, a crushing 5-1 defeat at the hands of Athletic Bilbao leaving Ronald Koeman's side level with Valladolid, just two points above the drop zone. Raúl Albiol deflected a long shot from Javi Martínez in to his own net early on, and Llorente got two more either side of half time. Villa pulled one back with a free kick, but Iraola and Aduríz completed the rout late on.
Athletic move up to eighth, level on points with Espanyol and with on-form Deportivo, who beat Osasuna 0-1 to record their fourth victory in a row. After three home defeats in succession the locals needed points themselves, but despite dominating for the first hour or so they fell behind to a controversial penalty, Sergio converting the kick after Filipe Luis fell under a challenge from Cruchaga.
Osasuna stay on 40 points, normally enough to ensure survival. However this season they will need a little more, as will Getafe who are only one point above the Navarrans after a 3-1 defeat to bottom club Levante. The locals put behind them the resignation of coach De Biasi and their financial problems, Juanma, Berson and Pedro León putting them three up with strikes either side of half time before De la Red got a consolation penalty.
It is only a matter of time though before Levante are mathematically down, and Murcia look doomed as well after they lost 1-4 to Mallorca. Dani Güiza scored a hat-trick and set up another for Arango to break the Balearic Island club's first division scoring record and take his side safely up to mid-table. Baiano got one back late on for Javier Clemente's side, but they are now eight points adrift of seventeenth placed Zaragoza. (20.04.08)
Another disappointing result for Barcelona, a 0-0 draw at home to city rivals Espanyol leaving them still eight points behind Real Madrid pending their game on Sunday. Frank Rijkaard's side had only won one of their last seven games, and despite having most of the play they were unable to break down a well ordered defence. Even the introduction of Messi and Iniesta at the break couldn't change things, and they must now pick themselves up in time for the midweek Champions League game against Manchester United. For Espanyol it was a first point in five matches, but at least they had the satisfaction of frustrating the old enemy.
Disappointment as well for fourth placed Atlético Madrid, who lost 1-3 to a depleted Betis. In the absence of several star players, José Marí was drafted in to the visitors' line up, and it was his shot on the quarter hour mark which set up Juande to open the scoring. Agüero equalised with a long shot which Casto failed to push clear midway through the first half, but just a couple of minutes in to the second half Xisco restored the lead with a well struck free kick. And Capi wrapped things up later on after a good run by Arzu to take the Andalusians up to ninth in the table.
Atlético stay in fourth spot though after Sevilla were beaten 1-4 by Almería later in the evening. Despite early pressure from the home side, the visitors went in front when Daniel Alves headed Soriano's cross into his own net trying to clear for a corner. Negredo fired a penalty against the post later in the first half, but made up for his mistake scoring a second soon after the restart. Soon afterwards Juanma Ortíz made it three, and in the next four minutes Adriano was sent off for a remark to the referee and Negredo scored a fourth. Diego Alves saved a Kanouté penalty later on, and Kanouté finally did get a consolation goal with a quarter hour remaining. Down in the lower reaches,
Zaragoza climbed out of the relegation spots above Recreativo after beating the Andalusians 3-0. Sergio García opened the scoring in only the second minute after Aimar and Oliveira combined to set him up, and Oliveira got the second himself later in the first half after winning the ball off Iago Bouzón. Marco Rubén got himself sent off after picking up two bookings in a minute shortly before the break, and Oliveira headed a third from Gabi's free kick after the restart. Zaragoza ended with nine men after Vicente and Ayala were sent off for second bookable offences near the end, but the game ended soon afterwards. (19.04.08)