First division - day 24
Spain's two surviving UEFA Cup sides met on Sunday, with Deportivo and Valencia maintaining their positions in the upper part of the table after a 1-1 draw. David Villa put the visitors ahead midway through the first half, but then got himself sent off after the break. Piscu saved a point with a header from Sergio's free kick with ten minutes to go.
Málaga are up to sixth in the table after a 1-3 win at Valladolid. Albert Luque opened the scoring early on and Apoño got the second from the penalty spot after Iñaki Bea fouled Eliseu. Oldoni headed one back after the break, but Nacho wrapped things up for the visitors near the end.
Getafe and Athletic Bilbao ended the weekend in mid-table after a 1-1 draw. Soldado headed the home side in to the lead, but Llorente equalised shortly before half time. A few minutes earlier Jacobo saved a penalty from Iraola after Mario had fouled Llorente.
And the match between Recreativo and Almería also ended 1-1, with Camuñas heading the locals in front on the hour mark and Negredo levelling the scores from the penalty spot late on. Hugo Sánchez's side played three-quarters of the match with ten men after Crusat was sent off.
Osasuna stay out of the relegation spots after a 2-0 victory over bottom club Numancia. Plasil got the first with only two minutes on the clock, and Masoud turned in Juanfran's cross for the second later in the first half. It was a bad start for Numancia's new coach Pacheta, who was shown a red card for protesting after the interval.
Mallorca stay level with Osasuna though after a late 1-0 win over Racing Santander. Both sides had chances throughout, but the only goal came with two minutes to go after the locals were awarded a penalty for a foul on Castro, Jurado beating Toño on the follow up after the keeper had saved his spot kick. (22.02.09)
A surprise 1-2 victory by Espanyol over city rivals Barcelona opened up the league title. Guardiola's side had not lost in the Nou Camp all season, but a bad tempered first half left them a man short after Keita was sent off. And ex Barça midfielder De la Peña did the damage in a five minute period early in the second half, heading in Nené's cross then taking advantage of a bad clearance by Valdés to make it two. Touré Yaya pulled one back, but this time there was no further come back and Espanyol had their first league win in fifteen games.
Real Madrid meanwhile are going from strength to strength, and they closed the gap on the leaders to seven points after thrashing Betis 6-1. Incredibly, all the goals came in the first half, with Higuaín starting things off and Huntelaar adding two more with a quarter of the game gone. Oliveira got one back and then hit the post, but Raúl scored two himself and Sergio Ramos completed the "set" before the half time whistle.
Villarreal moved back up in to the top four pending Valencia's game on Sunday after beating Sporting Gijón 2-1. The first two goals came with less than two minutes on the clock, Bilic beating Diego López to put the visitors ahead in the first play of the game, but Rossi equalising almost immediately. And Capdevila headed the winner from a Marcos Senna free kick shortly before half time.
Later in the evening Sevilla consolidated third spot with a 1-0 victory over Atlético Madrid. Once again they left it late, Jesús Navas getting the only goal three minutes from the end. It could have been different though if Forlán had been able to find the net rather than hitting the bar from two yards out before the interval. (21.02.09)