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Match round-up - First Division Day 34

Fourth placed Valencia lost ground on Sevilla after a 3-0 defeat at Espanyol on Sunday evening, and they ended the weekend four points behind their rivals. Honours were shared until midway through the second half, when Román beat César after Luis García played on Nené's cross. Nico Pareja made it two with a well struck free kick, and Nené completed the scoring from the penalty spot in injury time after Rufete was fouled by Pablo Hernández to make it sixteen points out of the last eighteen for the Catalans.

Atlético Madrid moved up to within a point of Valencia after a 0-2 victory over Betis in the last game of the evening. With Agüero left on the bench it was up to Diego Forlán to open the scoring after Maxi set him up on the quarter hour mark. Leo Franco had some work to do after that though before Forlán got his second of the night in the last minute. The defeat leaves Betis just three points above the relegation spots.

Deportivo are now seventh in the table, just two points behind Atlético and Villarreal, after a 1-0 win over Valladolid. Lassad got the only goal early on after Bodipo played on Filipe's cross, and Bodipo could have increased the lead before the break. Aranzubia had some work to do after the restart, but for the sixth game in a row the visitors were unable to score, and they ended with ten men after Luis Prieto was red-carded in injury time.

The relegation battle looks like it could go down to the wire this year, and bottom club Recreativo replied to Numancia's win the day before with a 1-2 victory at Osasuna. Pandiani headed in Azpilicueta's long throw to put the locals in front midway through the first half, but they were left with ten men when Sergio picked up a second booking early in the second half. And Recre took advantage to turn the scoreline around late on with strikes from Ersen Martin and Morris.

Sporting Gijón were out of the relegation spots for eighty-nine minutes of their match against Athletic Bilbao, but they dropped back in to it in the end after the Basque side made it 1-1 right at the end. Bilic gave the Asturians the lead on the hour mark when he headed in Diego Castro's cross, but Iraola scrambled a late equaliser to frustrate the capacity crowd in the Molinón stadium.

Getafe are now level with Sporting though after they lost 2-1 at Mallorca, a bad start for new coach Michel who took over from Víctor Muñoz midweek. Jurado gave the Islanders an early lead, and although David Navarro put through his own net in the first minute of the second half, Aduríz made sure of the three points after intercepting a poor goal kick by Stojkovic.

Racing Santander are still not clear of the relegation struggle either after they were beaten 0-2 by Almería. Within twelve minutes they were two down, Juanma Ortíz scoring with an impressive volley and then picking up Nieto's cross to make it two. Zigic hit the bar after that, but they couldn't beat Esteban and ended the weekend just five points off the drop zone. (03.05.09)

Barcelona virtually made sure of the league title with an incredible 2-6 victory over Real Madrid on Saturday evening. With only four points between the two sides at the start of the match everything hung in the balance, and when Higuaín opened the scoring on the quarter hour mark it looked like Madrid were closing in on their rivals. But two goals in as many minutes by Henry and Puyol turned the scoreline around, and Messi made it three before the break. Sergio Ramos headed one back after the restart, but Henry restored the two goal cushion, and late strikes from Messi and Piqué completed the "set".

With the first two positions decided though, the battle is on for the two remaining places in next season's Champions League. And Sevilla consolidated third spot with a 0-2 victory over Villarreal later in the evening. A win for the locals would have taken them above the Andalusians. But Kanouté set up Luis Fabiano to open the scoring after the break, and then added the second himself with an impressive shot from outside of the area. By then Sevilla were playing with ten men after Konko picked up a second booking, but they held on for the three points.

Numancia have not given up the struggle to avoid relegation, and they moved off the bottom of the table after beating Málaga 2-0. With only a minute on the clock Moreno volleyed home Aranda's cross, and even though Goiria was sent off early in the second half, Del Pino added a second on the hour mark. And it could have been more, Goitia saving an Aranda penalty near the end. (2.05.09)