One of the most interesting years for some time ended on rather a dull note after Deportivo and Valencia drew 0-0 in the last match before the two week winter break. The Galicians began the day two points behind their rivals, and a win would have taken them above their opponents in to the top four. And they had the better chances in the first half, Adrián bringing a good save out of César and Valerón heading against the bar. David Villa did cause some problems for the local defence, but Valerón and Sergio could have won it for Depor had they been able to find the target when free in front of goal after the restart.
Mallorca also started the weekend with a chance of ending the year in the Champions League spots, although in the end they had to make do with fifth place after a 2-1 defeat at Málaga. Fernando put the Andalusians ahead after Aouate ran in to his own player and dropped Apoño's free kick at his feet, but Julio Alvarez equalised ten minutes in to the second half after the defence failed to clear Chori Castro's cross. Forestieri won it for the locals though with a header which bounced awkwardly past Aouate, giving his side their first victory since the opening day of the season.
Villarreal and Racing Santander are two teams who have recovered their form recently, but it was Ernesto Valverde's side who got the edge when they met on Sunday. Llorente opened the scoring four minutes after the interval, beating Coltorti at the second attempt after Javi Venta crossed in from the right wing. And Rossi scored the definitive 2-0 later in the second half with an acrobatic shot after Morris could only play Cani's cross in to his path.
Sporting Gijón's recent good run came to an end when they were beaten 2-1 by a Valladolid side who had not won in six games. Luis Morán gave the Asturians an early lead following a short free kick, José Angel's shot deflecting off the defensive wall right to him. But Nivaldo levelled the scores on the half hour mark, heading past Juan Pablo after Diego Costa headed back Canobbio's free kick, and Medunjanin came on to score the winner in the last minute.
Espanyol also clocked up their first victory in two months, beating Almería 2-0 to move away from the danger zone. The Catalans had not scored in over 500 minutes, but they went ahead on the stroke of half time when the home-grown Javi Márquez turned in Verdú's cross. And with ten minutes to go Márquez fired in a shot which Diego Alves couldn't hold, and Coro drove in the rebound. Almería have only picked up four points in their last eight games, and coach Hugo Sánchez may soon be on his way.
Tenerife and Atlético Madrid have also been struggling recently, and they both remain just above the relegation spots after drawing 1-1. Nino gave the Caanary Islanders the lead in only the third minute after Alfaro played across Juanlu's free kick, but Jurado ran on to Forlán's pass to equalise a few minutes later. The locals could have won it though had Sergio Asenjo not saved a Nino penalty shortly before half time after Domínguez handled in the area. (20.12.09)
Real Madrid closed the gap on leaders Barcelona after thrashing Zaragoza 6-0 on Saturday night. B team coach José Aurelio Gay was in charge for the visitors after Marcelino was sacked last weekend, but he could only watch as Higuaín latched on to Marcelo's pass to open the scoring in the third minute. Van der Vaart added two more midway through the first half, and Higuaín showed excellent control to notch up his second of the evening with less than half the game gone. After the break Cristian Ronaldo bamboozled the defence to make it five, and substitute Benzema completed the rout later on. Zaragoza stay down in the relegation spots as a result.
Madrid are now seven points clear of third placed Sevilla after the Andalusians lost 1-2 to Getafe earlier in the evening. Soldado got the first in the twelfth minute after Pedro León and Gavilán combined to set him up, and the ex Real Madrid striker added a second later in the first half after Sergio Sánchez could only play Albín's pass in to his path. Half time substitute Negredo got one back soon after the restart, but Michel's side held on for three points which consolidates their position in the top half of the table.
Athletic Bilbao started off the weekend, and they move up to sixth pending Sunday's games after beating regional neighbours Osasuna 2-0. With less than a minute on the clock Yeste turned in Llorente's cross to give the locals the lead, and Llorente himself scored the second a few minutes later with a shot on the turn past Ricardo. Gurpegui and Llorente could have increased the lead after that, and the visitors hardly troubled keeper Iraizoz throughout the match. (19.12.09)