Hércules ended the first half of the season as winter champions after Real Sociedad lost 0-1 to Elche on Sunday. The visitors took the lead early on with a Molina penalty after Bravo was sent off for a foul on Trejo, the keeper incomprehensively bringing down the forward after losing the ball trying to dribble round him. Bueno should have equalised when he fired a second penalty wide after Juli fouled Carlos Martínez just before half time, but although Juli was sent off for a second bookable offence soon after the restart, the Basque side couldn't prevent a first home defeat of the current campaign.
Earlier in the day Betis lost further ground on the leaders after a 1-0 defeat at Levante, a result which cost the job of coach Antonio Tapia. Rubén Suárez got the only goal of the match with a well struck free kick early in the second half, and the Andalusians put up little resistance after that. It was fifth away defeat in a row for the Sevilla based side, and Levante are now level with them in the table. Fellow challengers Rayo Vallecano didn't do any better though later in the evening, and they are a point behind both sides after losing 2-0 to Recreativo. Both goals came late on, Iago Bouzón heading in an Emilio Sánchez corner, and Fornaroli getting on the end of a Candeias cross to give coach Raúl Agné a first league win since taking over at the start of December.
The other three matches on Sunday all ended in draws, with Celta unable to build on their midweek cup heroics after their match at Huesca ended 1-1. Curiously the home side got the ball in the net four times, Juanma and Rubiatos having strikes ruled out in each half, Corona putting through his own net after Jordi's shot came back off the post on the half hour mark, and Camacho equalising a few minutes later. Córdoba could only draw 0-0 with bottom club Castellón, the visitors defending well against the Andalusians, who have not won at home in four games. And the relegation struggle between Murcia and Girona also ended without goals, Jorquera saving a second half Luque penalty to keep the Catalans just out of the drop zone. It was the sixth spot kick in a row that Murcia have missed this season, and they remain four points below their opponents in the table. (24.01.10)
Hércules are back on top of the second division pending Real Sociedad's game on Sunday after beating Real Unión 1-0 on Saturday evening. It was not a comfortable win though, and the visitors caused some problems for Calatayud before Tiago Gomes headed in a Farinós free kick with twenty minutes to go. Cartagena are sure of staying in third spot this weekend despite a 0-0 draw at Albacete. Despite the result there were many chances, Toché and Belencoso going close in the opening minutes and De Lucas and Verza testing the keepers with free kicks after the restart. The locals ended with ten men after Tarantino picked up a second booking late on.
Villarreal B are just a point behind Cartagena though after a high scoring 2-4 win at Salamanca. All the goals came after the interval, Salva Sevilla starting things off for the locals after Laionel crossed in. Biel Ribas saved a Matilla penalty at the other end, but Jefferson Montero equalised a couple of minutes later, and a Gerard header and an angled shot from Joan Oriol put the visitors two up. Linares closed the gap again, but Gerard scored his second of the evening in injury time to wrap things up. Salamanca have now only picked up one point from their last five games, and fans called for the head of coach Juan Carlos Oliva at the end.
Numancia were hoping to end the first half of the season in the promotion spots, but they have to settle for fifth after losing 1-3 to a Cádiz side who move out of the relegation spots as a result of their win. Toedtli got on the end of Enrique's cross to put the Andalusians ahead midway through the first half, and two more by Nano and Enrique soon after the restart made sure of victory for Víctor Espárrago's team. Iñigo got one back five minutes to go though, and Barkero could have set up a dramatic finish had Casilla not saved his late penalty. Gimnàstic are now level with Numancia after a late 2-1 victory over Las Palmas. Medina headed in an early corner with a bit of help from a defender, but Saúl got on the end of Rondón's cross to equalise on the hour mark. Substitute Alex Cruz got the winner from Redondo's centre near the end though, and the Canary Islanders ended with ten men after Marcos Márquez was sent off in the last minute. (23.01.10)