First division - day 4

Valencia moved ahead of Villarreal to the top of the table after a 2-0 victory at Málaga. The locals have not scored a goal all season, but they held on until twenty minutes from the end, when David Villa headed Mata's cross in to the net from close up to open the scoring. The Andalusians were left with ten men when Salva was sent off for a hard tackle on Edu, and Villa made sure, running on to score a second goal in injury time.

Almería are out of the European spots though after suffering their first defeat of the season at Valladolid. Alvaro Rubio put the home side ahead midway through the second half with a wide free kick which went past everyone in to the net. The visitors were unlucky to have a Natalio strike ruled out for a non-existent offside soon afterwards, but even though Alvaro was sent off for a second bookable offence, Medanjunin added a second with a delightful chip in time added on.

A 2-0 result too at the San Moix, where Mallorca recorded their first victory of the current campaign against Numancia. A dummy and a great burst of speed took Jurado past two defenders and the keeper to open the scoring in the twelfth minute. And Webó headed home an Arango corner after the restart to hand the Soria based side their third loss in a row.

Two goals as well in the other match on Thursday evening, but this time honours were shared as Recreativo and Athletic Bilbao drew 1-1. Both goals came in the last quarter of the game, Javi Guerrero picking up a pass from Colunga to put the home side ahead, and David López striking a first time volley past Riesgo to equalise four minutes later. (25.09.08)

Villarreal top the table pending Thursday's games after a 2-0 victory over Racing Santander. Capdevila headed in a cross from Angel to open the scoring with just under half an hour on the clock, and Llorente got on the end of another Angel cross four minutes later to head home the second. Pellegrini's side have not lost now since April, and this is their best ever start in the first division.

Real Madrid are in second spot though, just a point behind the leaders, after a 7-1 humiliation of Sporting Gijón. The Asturians made eight changes after losing 1-6 to Barcelona at the weekend, but it made little difference as Van der Vaart helped himself to a hat-trick with just over half the game gone. Higuaín scored one in between and Robben got his name on the scoresheet as well, and although Kike Mateo got one back for the visitors, Raúl added two more to wrap things up.

Atlético Madrid are level on points with their city neighbours after they beat Madrid's third side Getafe 1-2. Sinama-Pongolle started things off with a well taken goal midway through the first half, and although Albín headed the equaliser later in the second half, David Cortés put through his own net from Maxi's cross to give the visitors the three points.

Atlético have to face the so called "four sharks" next though. The systematic calendar has thrown together games against Sevilla, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Villarreal, and early leaders Espanyol are now going through the gauntlet. The Catalans were beaten 2-0 by Sevilla tonight, with Maresca heading the first early in the second half and Chevantón adding a second late on. Tintin Márquez's side host city rivals Barcelona on Saturday.

Barcelona themselves were almost caught out by Betis at the Nou Camp, although a late goal by substitute Gudjohnsen gave them a 3-2 win in the end. Eto'o scored twice in a six minute period in the middle of the first half, both times set up by Messi, but the Andalusians fought back to level the scores with strikes from debutant Monzón and from veteran striker José Marí.

The other match on Wednesday between Osasuna and Deportivo ended in a 0-0 draw. Plasil hit the bar for the locals before the break, and the Galicians were left with ten men after De Guzmán was sent off for a second bookable offence early in the second half, but even so Lotina's side held on for a point. (24.09.08)