And so it goes on... Real Madrid kept up the pace with Barcelona after a 2-4 win at city neighbours Getafe on Thursday, and the two sides stay 18 points clear of third placed Valencia. Michel's team put up little resistance as Madrid raced in to a four goal lead before the break, with Cristiano Ronaldo starting things off with a well struck free kick in the thirteenth minute. Higuaín added two more in a three minute period midway through the first half, the first from Van der Vaart's pass and the second after Gago put him through, and when Ronaldo made it four after a couple of step-overs and an angled shot past Ustari, it was all over. Dani Parejo got one back before the break in a play which left Casillas momentarily lying injured on the ground, and Pedro León scored a face-saving second late on after a rebound fell to him, but by then Madrid were already thinking of their next derby game against Atlético at the weekend.
Real's neighbours Atlético Madrid were in action later in the evening, and they moved up to eighth in the table after beating sixth placed Athletic Bilbao 2-0. The visitors had the better of the first half, with De Gea having to save from Gurpegui and llorente, and Llorente firing a long shot against the post. Nine minutes after the restart though Diego Forlán got on the end of Valera's cross to steer a shot wide of Gorka Iraizoz, and with the game coming to an end Agüero picked up a loose ball and left San José for dead before beating the keeper with an angled shot. Despite the defeat Athletic stay sixth, although Quique Sánchez Flores's side are now only five points behind them in the table. (25.03.10)
Barcelona moved back to the top of the table pending Real Madrid's game on Thursday after a 2-0 victory over Osasuna on Wednesday evening. It was not an easy win though, Camacho's side holding their own for much of the game and coming close to taking the lead through Vadocz and Masoud early on. Despite having most of the possession, Barça's first real chance didn't fall until midway through the second half when Ricardo had to save a header from substitute Keita. But with just under twenty minutes to go Ibrahimovic got on the end of Maxwell's cross to open the scoring, and two minutes from the end Bojan turned in Iniesta's centre to make sure of the three points.
The top two are already way out of reach, but Valencia are now strong favourites for the third Champions League spot after a 1-0 win over Málaga. David Villa got what was to prove the only goal with just under a quarter of an hour on the clock, turning the ball past Munúa after Mata crossed in from the left. Baraja headed wide soon afterwards, but Baha went close a couple of times at the other end before the break. Munúa was called upon though to keep out Jordi Alba and Baraja either side of half time, and Silva could have added to the lead after the restart, a first strike sailing just past the post and a second ruled out for a previous foul by Banega.
Mallorca hold on to fourth spot after they held Racing Santander to a 0-0 draw in the Sardinero stadium. Despite the best efforts of Canales, the Cantabrians were once again unable to score at home, and they have now gone almost seven hours without finding the net. The young midfielder laid the ball on a plate for Tchité early in the second half only for the striker to miss the target, and then brought a good save out of Aouate with a direct free kick. Earlier in the first half Coltorti saved from Varela and another effort from Tchité was cleared off the line by Ramis, but in the end both sides settled for a point.
The remaining matches largely involved teams fighting to avoid the drop zone, with Tenerife frustrated late on in a 2-2 draw with Villarreal. The Canary Islanders found themselves behind when Nilmar headed in Ibagaza's free kick on the stroke of half time. But Nino headed in an Ayoze cross to equalise on the hour mark, and with a quarter of an hour to go Culebras put the locals in front after Capdevila could only clear a corner to him. However with the local fans already celebrating the victory, Rossi ran on to Bruno's pass to break their hearts.
Tenerife stay level with Valladolid after Onesimo's side were held to a 0-0 draw by Espanyol. The Catalans were looking to distance themselves from the danger zone, and Osvaldo got the ball in the net ten minutes before the break only for his header to be ruled out for offside. A minute later the locals were left with ten men after Diego Costa was sent off for stepping on Didac, and Osvaldo brought a good save out of Villar before the half time whistle. Numbers were evened up later on when Víctor Ruíz picked up a second booking for a foul on Borja, and Manucho came close to winning it for the home side when he headed wide late on.
Zaragoza are now only two points above the relegation spots after a 1-0 defeat at Almería. After a dull first forty-five minutes the visitors started the second half strongly, Gabi hitting the bar in one of three chances they created. But with just over an hour gone Kalu Uche (who's brother Ikechukwu would have been facing him had he not been injured) controlled a pass on his chest and turned past two players to score. Lillo's side could have increased their lead when Roberto saved a Corona penalty after the referee ruled that Ponzio had handled deliberately in the area, but they had already done enough to take the three points. (24.03.10)
Sevilla could only draw 1-1 with struggling neighbours Xerez on Tuesday night, a result which cost the job of coach Manuel Jiménez. The Andalusians had dropped out of the Champions League spots after a run of poor results, and they desperately needed a win to get their season back on track. Adriano went close early on, but Mario Bermejo could have put the visitors ahead soon after the restart when he intercepted a bad Stankevicius back pass and rounded Palop only for his shot to go wide. Midway through the second half the locals took the lead with a Kanouté penalty after Keita tripped Adriano in the area, but with the game coming to an end Gioda drilled home the equaliser after the defence failed to clear a long throw. A few hours later Jiménez was history, with Luis Aragonés, Laudrup and Schuster the favourites to take over.
Earlier in the evening Sporting Gijón beat Deportivo 2-1 to move up to a comfortable position in mid-table. Things went their way in only the tenth minute when Aranzubia was sent off for bringing down Bilic outside of the area, and with half an hour on the clock Bilic beat substitute keeper Manu after Miguel played the ball through. Depor fought back after the break, Juan Rodríguez shooting just wide before Adrián ran on to Sergio's lofted pass to fire a shot past Juan Pablo. But with the game in injury time Lopo was red-carded for a foul on Kike Mateo, and Diego Castro stepped up to drill home the resulting penalty and tie up the three points for the Asturians. (23.03.10)