First division - day 17
Real Madrid ended the weekend in third spot after a 1-0 win over Villarreal on Sunday evening. Robben scored the only goal of the game with just over half an hour gone, but once again Casillas was called upon to keep out Pires, Llorente and others later on. Sevilla could have climbed back above them to second had they been able to beat Osasuna later in the evening, but although Jesús Navas gave the Andalusians the lead in the second half, Pandiani equalised in injury time.
Deportivo kept up their good recent run, and they moved above Villarreal in to the top six after a 1-2 victory at Getafe. Manu del Moral cancelled out Bodipo's early strike, but Sergio got the winner from the penalty spot near the end. Málaga are now four points behind Villarreal after they beat Sporting Gijón 1-0, Lolo heading the goal from Duda's corner in the first half. And Racing Santander beat Valladolid 0-1 to move up to the top half of the table, Zigic converting Marcano's cross midway through the second half to signal his return to his old side.
A good start for another new boy as well, coach Hugo Sánchez guiding his new club Almería to a 1-0 win over Betis. The only goal came when Casto allowed a long free kick from Corona in to the net ten minutes before the interval, although the visitors hit the woodwork twice after the restart. Elsewhere Recreativo moved out of the relegation spots for the first time in several weeks after beating Numancia 3-1. Javi Fuego, Camuñas and Aitor got the goals, and Riesgo saved two penalties before Brit finally beat him in injury time. Espanyol stay in the bottom three though despite a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao, Iraola saving a point for the Basque side after Moisés had given the visitors the lead. (04.01.09)
Barcelona started the new year as they ended the last, with a 3-1 win over Mallorca. Guardiola rested several key players for Tuesday night's cup tie against Atlético, and Aduríz took advantage of a hesitant midfield to open the scoring early on. Henry equalised a few minutes later though after Puyol headed on Xavi's corner, and Iniesta came on to turn in Gudjohnsen's cross with a quarter of an hour to go. The visitors were left with ten men when Josemi picked up a second booking near the end, and Touré Yaya wrapped things up with an individualist third goal in injury time.
Valencia moved up to second spot pending Sunday's games after beating Atlético Madrid 3-1 later in the evening. The Ches had two goals disallowed and a penalty appeal turned down before Villa converted a less obvious penalty ten minutes before the break. Silva ran on to Miguel's pass to make it two soon afterwards, but Forlán got one back before half time with another penalty after Agúero was brought down. Atlético came out looking for the equaliser after the restart, but a second goal from Silva finished them off. (03.01.09)